May 23 Salon: Truth or Consequences: Why the Media Still Matter

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May 23 Salon: Truth or Consequences: Why the Media Still Matter

Americans’ trust in the media is at an all-time low.

Even before “fake news” became a byword, a Gallup poll revealed that just 32% of people said they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. “Post truth,” defined as the state of affairs when “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief,” was Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year. How did we get here?


We are in the midst of a media revolution. It has never has been so easy to create, disseminate or receive content. But it also has never been so easy for individuals to self-select the content that they see—or for that content to be manipulated, faked, or fed to us without filter. How are traditional media outlets navigating this strange new world, where fact checking and editorial judgment have become so devalued? And can journalism—whose historic role is to seek and relay facts without fear or favor—endure in a time when so many are turning to alternative sources for news, or just plain tuning out?

Join us May 23rd at the Florida Times-Union for Truth or Consequences, a TEDxJacksonville Salon where we’ll discuss why the media still matter, now more than ever. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $12. Secure your seat today.

Moderator and Discussion Leaders for the evening:

  • Ryan Benk, Moderator, Reporter, WJCT
  • Ennis Davis, Co-founder and Blogger, Metro Jacksonville and Modern Cities
  • Kent Justice, Anchor and Political Reporter, News4Jax
  • Tia Mitchell, Statehouse Bureau Chief, The Florida Times-Union
  • Mary Kelli Palka, Editor, The Florida Times-Union
  •  Melissa Ross, Host and Producer, First Coast Connect, WJCT

Discussion Leaders:

Ryan Benk is a reporter for NPR station WJCT, and has won multiple AP Broadcasters Awards, most recently for his investigation into federal racism complaints filed against JEA. Ryan also has been featured on NPR newscasts and the nationally-syndicated show The Takeaway for his coverage of cargo ship El Faro’s sinking.  His feature reporting also has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and across the state via Florida’s public radio network. Ryan’s coverage focuses mostly on health care and the environment, but he also enjoys reporting on arts and culture, and hosts a weekly program highlighting Jacksonville’s music scene called Indie Endeavor. Ryan’s work also has appeared in Folio Weekly and he represents the Jacksonville broadcast news market on the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Board. Ryan was born and raised in a Southwest Miami suburb and graduated Florida State University.

Ennis Davis is a community activist focused on facilitating urban revitalization through social engagement and placemaking through the establishment of blogs such as Moderncities.com and MetroJacksonville.com and the tactical urbanist group Transform Jax. In addition, Ennis is the Chair of APA Florida’s First Coast Section, a mayoral appointee to the board of the Northeast Florida Regional Transportation Commission and a 2013 Next City “40 under 40” Vanguard Class member. Ennis holds a Bachelor in Architecture from Florida A&M University and is a certified Urban Planner with Ghyabi & Associates.

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights with Joy Purdy, and hosts “This Week in Jacksonville,” Channel 4’s hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9. Civic leaders, business professionals, and nonprofit activists spend time in conversation with Kent about the big issues in our area. As News4Jax’s political reporter, Kent has covered national political party conventions and local races for public office and is a seasoned moderator, having hosted congressional, state attorney and gubernatorial candidate debates and forums. An award-winning journalist, Kent was nominated in 2016 for two Emmy Awards, and earned a Finalist Award from the Associated Press in April 2017. He has reported in Columbus, Ohio, in California (Santa Barbara and the Central Coast), in South Dakota and in Montana. Kent launched his professional journalism career at 17 years old as a sports writer for a large San Francisco area newspaper chain.

Mary Kelli Palka has been a journalist for more than 20 years. She became editor of The Florida Times-Union in January. A native of Jacksonville Beach, Palka started her journalism career as a reporter covering police and courts in Burlington, N.C. She went on to cover similar issues in the Lee County office of the Naples Daily News. In 2003, Palka returned to Jacksonville to cover the Mayor’s Office for The Florida Times-Union.  She later covered a variety of government issues, as well as education, public utilities and projects. She left journalism for one year, when she worked for UF Health Jacksonville in the communications office. She returned to the Times-Union in 2013 to lead its newly created investigative reporting team. Later that year, she began overseeing the Times-Union’s news and business reporters. Since then, she served in a variety of newsroom leadership roles before being named editor.

Tia Mitchell is a political journalist in Florida who currently serves as Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Florida Times-Union newspaper. Based in Tallahassee, she covers state government and politics for the paper with a focus on Northeast Florida issues and lawmakers. She also writes a popular column in the Sunday “Reason” section that focuses on analysis and insight on local, state and national politics. Tia is a native of Louisville, Ky. She earned a bachelor degree in journalism from Florida A&M University. She returned to the Times-Union in 2014 after working for four years at the Tampa Bay Times. Tia is also a member of the board of the Florida Capitol Press Corps, the association of journalists who cover government and politics in Tallahassee.

Melissa Ross is the Emmy award-winning host and producer of WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI), and has been regularly honored as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll. Melissa also has been recognized multiple times as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. Melissa also hosts and produces WJCT Television’s interactive TV town hall program, Community Thread.

She has worked as a fill-in columnist for The Florida Times-Union and the website Florida Politics. As executive producer of the film The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards.  The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital.  During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional regional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in television broadcasting, including stints as an anchor, reporter and host in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville.  Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications.

 

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