Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium focuses on politicians and press
The second annual Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium will educate students and professionals about media ethics with a focus on media bias in election coverage.
The symposium’s namesakes are UI alumni Douglas and Arthur Oppenheimer, who own a Boise-based food processing, sales and marketing company.
Kelly McBride will give the keynote speech, “Politicians vs. the Press: A Social Media Cage Fight.” McBride is a faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and the lead writer on ESPN’s Poynter Review Project.
“The keynote speaker, Kelly McBride, brings a wealth of expertise and a national reputation as an expert on media ethics,” Kenton Bird, director of the University of Idaho School of Journalism and Mass Media said. “The reasons that ESPN went to the Poynter Institute to develop an ethics and accountability program (the Poynter Review Project) can be summed up in two words: Kelly McBride.”
In her speech, McBride will discuss how election coverage has become a wrestling match between politicians and their handlers and the press trying to do its job, and how issues of bias have crept into the coverage, said Steve Smith, professor of mass media ethics at UI.
“I am particularly excited about hearing Kelly McBride’s keynote address at the symposium,” said Betsy Russell, moderator of the symposium’s panel discussion and Boise bureau chief for The Spokesman-Review. “The media world and the role of social media is very much new and evolving, and there are issues all of us will have to wrestle with as it evolves.”
While last fall’s symposium focused on the emergence of social media, this year’s symposium will capitalize on the election buzz.
“The topic is timely — the symposium comes less than three weeks before the general election, so the public’s attention will be focused on the presidential campaign and the media’s coverage of it,” Bird said.
Bird will start the symposium with his introduction, which will be followed by McBride’s speech. Two political leaders and three area journalists will then discuss “Media Bias in Election Coverage: How to Spot It and What to Do About It,” a forum where Smith expects there to be “fireworks.”
On the panel are media professionals Todd Dvorak, Jamie Grey and Kevin Richert. Joining them are Brian Cronin, who was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2008 and Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry.
“The journalists on the panel include one who actively covers government and politics, one who both does that and supervises other reporters in that process and an editorial writer whose whole business is bias — whose job is to write opinion, as opposed to reporting the news like the others,” Russell said. “The political activists have been at the center of hotly contested issues in this state and no doubt will have some beefs with how they or their issues have been covered — justified or not. Perhaps they’ll even have some positive things to say.”
Bird said last fall’s symposium was aimed primarily at media professionals. This year’s symposium has an additional afternoon session that will address local high school and College of Western Idaho media students on issues of media bias.
Idaho Public Television, one of the symposium’s co-sponsors, will stream the symposium live and will archive it on its website, idahoptv.org, for those who cannot attend.
Smith said the ultimate goal is to continue education. Smith said he hopes the symposium will attract 200 people, exceeding last year’s attendance of 150.
A smaller symposium, like last year, is expected to take place in the spring in Moscow, Smith said, though the topic is undetermined.
“We’re still early in this relationship with the Oppenheimer brothers, so we’re building this one year at a time,” Smith said. “My hope is that eventually we will have a regionally recognized forum for ethical discussion held twice a year.”
Courtney Miller can be reached at email@example.com