Former Wyoming Gov. Sullivan to replace NBC’s Pete Williams as moderator of media trust forum
Rod Hicks, SPJ Journalist on Call, 317-954-0025, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS — Former Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan will moderate a forum featuring national journalists from New York City and Washington, D.C., in Casper next week, replacing NBC News Correspondent Pete Williams in that role.
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, 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 Casper College campus.
It is free and open to the public. The forum will be livestreamed by Wyoming PBS and can be accessed during the event.
As a high-profile elected official, Sullivan has years of experience taking questions from the local and national press. He was a two-term Democratic governor, serving from 1987 until 1995, and U. S. Ambassador to Ireland from 1998 until 2001 under the Clinton and Bush administrations.
“Having helped negotiate the reclamation of the former Amoco Refinery in Casper, serving as Wyoming’s governor during difficult economic times, and navigating the peace with the IRA in northern Ireland as the U.S. Ambassador, Mike Sullivan is the perfect moderator for nearly any discussion. We are grateful former Governor Sullivan is willing to step in to facilitate this important examination of media trust in Wyoming and across the nation,” said Dale Bohren, publisher of the Casper Star-Tribune.
In a role reversal, Sullivan will be the one asking questions of journalists next week. 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.
“The forum provides us a rare opportunity to ask questions and hear from national news representatives on a subject of significant current importance,” Sullivan said. “I look forward to an exciting and provocative discussion.”
Williams, a native of Casper, is a justice reporter for NBC News. He was assigned to cover the testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday, the day after the Casper forum, forcing him to cancel.
He previously said he was eager to hear what people from his hometown think of his profession. “The journalists I’ve been associated with, from my time in Casper to the present day, work hard to get the story right,” he said. “I hope this project will help reporters understand why that message doesn’t always get through.”
“Media Trust & Democracy: The Casper Project” began in February 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.
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