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Conference speaker cites need for journalism

Arlene Notoro Morgan addresses Wilkes University students at Bigler Conference.

Arlene Notoro Morgan, associate dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, speaks at the Tom Bigler Journalism Conference at Wilkes University.

Clark Van Orden / The Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE – “Journalism needs to be there” to safeguard the country, Arlene Notoro Morgan, associate dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, on Friday told more than 240 local high school students.

Morgan was the keynote speaker at the 9th annual Tom Bigler Journalism Conference at Wilkes University.

Morgan spent 31 years on the staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer before leaving for her current position in 2000. Despite dismal news about newspapers’ economic performance, she said enrollment applications are up at Columbia by some 33 percent.

“I believe there is a need for good, solid journalism,” she said. “But if you ever told me the Inquirer would be bankrupt, I would never have believed it.”

Morgan spent a few hours with students, showing them a video clip from the CBS news program 60 Minutes and then lecturing on the state of journalism in the U.S. She also took questions from students.

Morgan said reporting today is “not as solid” as it used to be, especially in the area of investigative journalism.

She said bias is a problem in the industry and she told the students that a reporter’s job is to report the news and let the reader, listener or viewer make up their minds what it means.

She also warned about pitfalls in new media. “There is so much gravitating to the Internet for news,” she said. “But I feel they are gravitating to nothing.”

Even though there are fewer jobs in the field, Morgan urged students considering journalism as a career to take it seriously. “You have to be correct,” she said. “Have your facts; truth and accuracy are essential.”

Morgan said the 2008 presidential election saw gender bias toward former Sen. Hillary Clinton Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“I think both were victims,” Morgan said. “And I think sometimes it can get silly out there. I mean, do we really care that Michelle Obama is wearing a sleeveless dress?”

The theme of the conference was “Reporting about Race.” Morgan authored a book on the subject - “The Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity.”

The high school students participated in a media competition, newspaper exchange and a variety of hands-on workshops and speak session featuring regional and national journalists. Participating in the forum was: Gary Fabiano, White House Press Corps, Washington D.C.; Sheena Delazio, Times Leader court reporter; Kyla Campbell, WBRE-TV reporter; and Steve Corbett, WILK radio personality.

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