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National journalists to close out 6-month Wyoming media trust project


Editor's Note (7/10/2019): Former Wyoming Governor Mike Sullivan will now serve as moderator of this forum. Pete Williams of NBC News had to cancel because he will be on assignment.

Rod Hicks, SPJ Journalist on Call, 317-954-0025, casperproject@spj.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The last session of a six-month media trust project in Casper, Wyoming, will give the public a chance to interact with journalists from The Associated Press, Buzzfeed News, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

The forum, titled, “Dear National News Media: Why Should We Trust You?” will allow residents to speak directly to journalists who play a role in shaping national news reports. The overall project seeks to get a deeper understanding of reasons people don’t trust the information they receive from reputable news outlets.

The forum is scheduled for 5 to 7:30 p.m. July 16 at Krampert Theatre on the campus of Casper College.

It is free and open to the public. The forum will be livestreamed by Wyoming PBS and can be accessed during the event.

Pete Williams, justice correspondent for NBC News and a native of Casper, is scheduled to moderate the forum. Panelists are Neal Lipschutz, deputy editor-in-chief, The Wall Street Journal; Noreen Gillespie, deputy managing editor for U.S. News, The Associated Press; Lori Montgomery, deputy national editor, The Washington Post; and Hayes Brown, world news editor and senior reporter, BuzzFeed News.

“Working to earn the trust of readers and viewers is crucial to the value of journalism, as it always has been,” said Lipschutz, who helps oversee The Journal’s global news operation. “I look forward to engaging in conversation with readers, and other journalists, on this important topic.”

“Media Trust & Democracy: The Casper Project” began in February and is conducted by the Society of Professional Journalists and the SPJ Foundation. Wyoming was chosen for the project because its residents distrust the news media at a slightly higher rate than residents of other states, according to Gallup. SPJ Journalist on Call Rod Hicks developed and is managing the project, which ends with the national panel.

“This will be a great way for our time in Casper to come to a close, by bringing members of the public and national journalists together to freely discuss the state of journalism and the relationship between the public and journalists in today’s climate,” said Irwin Gratz, president of the SPJ Foundation, the primary funder of the project. “We look forward to the conversation and hope it will provide insights into improving that relationship moving forward.”

Previous sessions were open only to about 30 Casper residents chosen to participate in the project and give input on problems with the news media. In addition to allowing participants to discuss their distrust issues, the sessions also featured guest presenters who led discussions on such topics as how to distinguish news from other types of information and how to recognize bias in stories. The findings from the project will be presented at a session at the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference Sept. 5-7 in San Antonio.

Williams, a reporter and news director at KTWO television and radio stations in Casper from 1974 to 1985, said the Casper forum can be enlightening for participating journalists.

“As a native of Casper, I’m eager to hear what people from my hometown think of my profession,” Williams said. “The journalists I’ve been associated with, from my time in Casper to the present day, work hard to get the story right. I hope this project will help reporters understand why that message doesn’t always get through.”

The Society of Professional Journalists Foundation is a public foundation dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. The SPJ Foundation supports educational and professional needs of journalists and journalism students. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Give to the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation.


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