Fall conference to explore media ethics in the thick of election season

The Idaho Press Club’s fall conference this year will be held in partnership with the University of Idaho School of Journalism and Mass Media and its Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium, which is set for Oct. 19 at the Idaho State Capitol Auditorium.

All Press Club members are invited to attend; the symposium and conference are free and open to the public. The topic will be especially timely: “Politicians vs. the Press: Media Ethics in an Election Season.”

The conference will run from 8 a.m. to noon, starting with a continental breakfast in the Senate dining room, just down the hall from the auditorium on the Garden Level of the state Capitol (the basement).

Keynote speaker is Kelly McBride, lead ethicist and media critic for the Poynter Institute of Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. McBride also has ties to our area; she’s a former reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Her keynote address, “Politicians vs. the Press: A Social Media  Cage Fight,” is scheduled from 8:45 to 10 a.m.

McBride is a writer, teacher and one of the country’s leading voices when it comes to media ethics. She has been on the faculty of The Poynter Institute for eight years. The world’s largest newsrooms, including  The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NPR and the BBC, frequently quote her expertise. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in theology from Gonzaga University, and gained a national reputation as a religion reporter, covering the moral side of fertility issues, sexual orientation, evolution and the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal.

McBride began her career as a police reporter in the hills of the Idaho Panhandle, covering the meth trade and the white supremacy movement. She recently traveled to South Africa to teach and research storytelling on mobile phones. Her current work at Poynter includes a project examining the transformation of journalism from a profession of a few to a civic obligation of many, the effects of technology on democracy, and the media habits of the millennial generation.

Following the keynote address, a panel discussion will address “Media Bias in Election Coverage: How to Spot It and What to Do About It.” Panelists will include Jamie Grey, investigative reporter, KTVB-TV; Kevin Richert, editorial page editor, Idaho Statesman; Todd Dvorak, Idaho correspondent for the Associated Press and head of the AP’s Boise office; Brian Cronin, retiring state legislator and Democratic activist; and Alex LeBeau, IACI president and lobbyist and Republican activist. Moderating the panel will be Betsy Russell, Idaho Press Club president.

The panel will run from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m.

Idaho Public Television will provide live video streaming of the conference; those who can’t attend in person can watch online at www.idahoptv.org/leglive.

The Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium is underwritten by a gift from U of I alumni Douglas F. Oppenheimer, president of Boise-based Oppenheimer Companies, and Arthur F. “Skip” Oppenheimer, chairman of the board. Co-sponsors include the Idaho Press Club, the Idaho Statesman, Idaho Public Television, the University of Idaho Boise Center and the University of Idaho College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.

The program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a state-based program of the National Endowment of the Humanities.

In conjunction with this year’s symposium, an additional hands-on session, also co-sponsored by the Press Club and the University of Idaho School of Journalism and Mass Media, will be held for high school and community college journalism students in the afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; for more information about the student session, contact UI journalism professor Steven Smith, sasmith@uidaho.edu.

The Press Club would like to thank Steve, the Oppenheimers and the U of I for working with us on this exceptional program, and encourage all our members who can to attend!