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#LovinLouisville #2 │ Untold Stories of the Connected World: Journalism as an Instrument for Citizenship

By Caitlin Reilly, Program Associate, the American Democracy Project

Heading to Louisville for #ADPTDC14? Over the next two weeks leading up to our June 5-7 ADP/TDC Joint National Meeting in this City of Compassion, we’ll be highlighting reasons that we’re #LovinLouisville.

Reason #2? Saturday’s plenary session!

We’ll be opening Saturday’s activities with a plenary session given by Mark Schulte, the education director for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.  During his session, Untold Stories of the Connected World: Journalism as an Instrument for Citizenship, Mark will talk about what quality journalism is and how it plays a role in citizenship in the modern world.

Mark’s background is in journalism; before joining the Pulitzer Center he worked as a magazine writer and editor, for U.S. News & World Report and regional publications in Virginia.  As education director, he uses the journalism supported by the Pulitzer Center to engage students on under-reported global topics such as water and sanitation, extractives and commodities, climate change, women and children in crisis, and food insecurity.

Earlier this week, he took a minute to chat with us about journalism, citizenship and, of course, why he’s #LovinLouisville.

Q: Was there anything you experienced or studied as a student that has particularly informed the work you do now or your devotion to the Pulitzer Center’s mission?

A: My subscriptions to National Geographic World and Ranger Rick, two kids’ magazines, were as educational as anything I learned in class—and more fun. So my conviction that good journalism is the best way to learn about the world started around the age of 9 or 10.

Q: Do you have any advice for current students or faculty?

A: You have more power than any prior generation to cultivate a healthy information diet that will make you an effective citizen. It’s all free, and it’s all instantly available. But you also have more personal responsibility to figure out what the right balance is. Nobody will do it for you.

Q: What role do you see journalism playing in civic engagement?

A: We engage effectively only if we have an understanding of our civic society as it currently exists, and as it changes. Quality journalism is the only practical way for busy people to comprehend complex, fluid global and regional trends.

Q: With click-driven content, how do you think the public service aspect of journalism’s mission has changed?  Do you think it’s become either easier or harder to find people to cover, publish and read under-reported, but important stories?

A: The media landscape has been freed, in a sense, by the digital revolution. But with that change has come a barrage of trivial or misleading content. While there is less money for global news than there has been in the past, I don’t see the most important change coming from the supply side. There will always be people who will cover and publish good news. I think the critical piece is consumer demand. We have to help people understand why news matters, and we should start early!

Q: Would you mind sharing one of your favorite stories that has come out of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting?

A: We screened a documentary on homophobia in Jamaica to a public high school in Philadelphia earlier this year, and after the movie ended the students burst into spontaneous applause when they learned that the filmmaker and the subject of the film, a Jamaican HIV activist, was in the audience. You wouldn’t have seen a response like that in my high school 25 years ago. Gay rights are a huge issue for this generation.

Q: Lastly, what reason are you “Lovin’ Louisville”?  (Sorry, that’s really cheesy, but it’s what this series is titled.)

A: I’m a boxing fan, so the Muhammad Ali Center is on my to-do list!

To hear more of Mark’s ideas, join us for the plenary session, Untold Stories of the Connected World: Journalism as an Instrument for Citizenship, on Saturday, June 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

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