2011 First Amendment Forum at SCSU

Society of Professional Journalists, SCSU Chapter

SCSU-SPJ – Government transparency and news media scrutiny collide in the new world of media information.

“Have the Watchdogs Lost Their Bark?” pushes the envelope as the central theme of the SCSU First Amendment Forum.

Exceptional journalists headline the free, day-long workshop Friday, April 15 in the Atwood Little Theatre.  Sessions are 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“Whether crusading or investigative journalism, closely watching government and business gives our democracy balance,” said Michael Vadnie, coordinator.

The morning session addresses the historical context of investigative journalism.  Featured panelists are Maura Lerner, Star Tribune long-time depth reporter; Joe Rigert, retired Star Tribune investigative reporter, past IRE president and author; Bob Cowan, Minnesota’s senior videographer, WCCO; and Lee Rood, respected project team leader for the Des Moines Register.  Bill Huntzicker, SCSU professor and media historian, is the moderator.

Highlighting the late morning session is recognition of John Bodette, executive editor of the St. Cloud Times/Times Media, winner of the First Amendment Award.  His status report on the free press will end about noon.

The afternoon panel dubbed Future World promises to realistically update citizens about the status of watchdog journalism – and what may lie “on the other side.” (Also a premise in the movie Rango)

“Watchdogs bark; junkyard dogs bite” is a consistent message in investigative reporting circles, often attributed to WCCO icon Don Shelby, who was unable to attend the Forum this year.

Featured panelists in the afternoon session are Jeff Kummer, seasoned project writer and politics reporter, Des Moines Register; Reg Chapman, WCCO investigative reporter; Dave Unze and John Bodette, St. Cloud Times/Times Media journalists; and Lee Rood.

Forum sponsors are Minnesota Newspaper Association, SCSU College of Fine Arts & Humanities, Minnesota professional chapter and SCSU student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, SCSU Department of Mass Communications, St. Cloud Times, Mark Mills, Gregory Martin and Vadnie.

For information on groups and parking, call Jane at 320-308-3820, or send an e-mail to Vadnie at vads@stcloudstate.edu.