‘Can Journalism Save Democracy?’

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — On Thursday, March 8, SOMA Action will host a discussion led by a panel of prominent journalists on the role of the press in the age of President Trump. Panel participants are: John Cassidy, staff writer for The New Yorker; Mary Alice Williams, anchor of NJTV News; and Tara George, professor of communications and media at Montclair State University. Mary Mann, co-founder and editor of The Village Green, will moderate the discussion.

Valyrie Laedlein, member of SOMA Action’s Financial Conflicts of Interest and Anti-Corruption Committee, which is organizing the event, said, “I take the press for granted — and, of course, I trust those whom I rely on as ‘my sources.’ I’m anxious to hear the perspective of those within the industry about the work of journalism, how to combat ‘fake news — in all its meanings — and what they see ahead for how we get our information.”

The panelists will be asked to speak on a range of topics including: the role of the press in the run-up to the 2016 election and lessons for how to cover upcoming elections; challenges journalists face in covering the fast-moving, norm-breaking presidency of Donald Trump; polarization of the population and the role of social media in contributing to these divides; the effect of opinion-driven cable news shows on our democracy; increased concentration of media ownership and its effects on independence of news outlets; combating media illiteracy among American citizens and the problem of “fake news” and Russian bots; and the role of citizens in ensuring a robust and effective press.

“Freedom of the press and a reasonably well-functioning constitutional democracy go hand-in-hand,” SOMA Action Trustee Michael Paris said. “Every generation must face new challenges to an independent free press in the form of new technologies, new market forces, and new and sometimes menacing threats to democracy and the rule of law. SOMA Action is proud to be hosting this vital conversation.”

“Can Journalism Save Democracy?” will be March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth El, 222 Irvington Ave. in South Orange.