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Public Newsroom

In 2024 WSLR received funding from the Florida Humanities Council to bring journalists, scholars, and community members together in a collaborative spirit to discuss the role of the media in society, how to counter mis-information, and how to ensure the community has access to the information it needs.

Our humanities scholar Dr. Maria Vesperi supplied the following resource lists to attendees:

Resouces for community news contributors

We hosted six Public Newsroom Forums.  You will find the recordings below.

Forum #1:  The Local Media and Me

Community journalism is a unique and nuanced form of journalism that calls for explanation. The characters are different, the stakes are different, and the audience served is different than that of a larger news outlet. Panelists and audience members will explore fundamental questions around potential differences and news judgment: What is news? How do we judge if a story is newsworthy? What is the role of a reporter in the local community? How can news consumers turn into news producers?

Facilitator: Maria Vesperi – NCF Anthropology Professor
Panelists:  Johannes Werner, WSLR News Director, Carrie Seidman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Dawn Kitterman, The Bradenton Times
 

Forum #2: Introduction to Community Journalism

Community journalism is a unique and nuanced form of journalism that calls for explanation. The characters are different, the stakes are different, and the audience served is different than that of a larger news outlet. Panelists and audience members will explore fundamental questions around potential differences and news judgment: What is news? How do we judge if a story is newsworthy? What is the role of a reporter in the local community? How can news consumers turn into news producers?

Facilitator: Johannes Werner — WSLR News Director Johannes Werner
Panelists:  Kerry Sheridan — reporter and co-host of “All Things Considered” at WUSF Public Media; Eric Garwood — executive editor of the Community News Collaborative; Endera Allen Stevens — growth manager of Northend Agent’s, Connecticut’s largest and longest-published African American newspaper.

Forum #3:  Thinking Like a Journalist

Learn techniques for finding credible information and gathering insights from people in your community.

We’ll explore the most important tool in a reporter’s toolbox: The interview. How does a reporter conduct a successful interview? How does a reporter conduct comprehensive research to make sure a story is on solid footing? How does a reporter decide how to best share stories and information in the community?

Facilitator:  Kathleen Murray, WSLR Communications Director  – Murray has a journalism degree from Syracuse University and is an award winning journalist with more than a decade of experience reporting, writing and editing for media outlets in both national/ international markets.

Panelists:  Billy Cox – retired features reporter- Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Renee James Gilmore – executive producer, “Empowering Voices” on ABC7; Carrie Seidman – opinion columnist for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Juan Pablo Salas – Solmart Media’s News Director

Public Forum #4:  Working a Beat

This forum will explore tactics and skills necessary to own a beat in your town. What is a beat? How does a reporter find news off a beat? How do you develop official and unofficial sources? How do you decide what are the best stories off a beat? How do you go from idea to pitch?
Facilitator: WSLR Communications Director Kathleen Murray
Panelists: Tom Bayles, WGCU’s senior environmental reporter; Samantha Gholar, social justice reporter for USA Today network; Steven Walker, the education reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
  

Public Forum #5:  Media Ethics and Law

This forum will look at how to conduct yourself as an ethical reporter and goes over some best practices. What does it mean to be an ethical journalist? How has journalism ethics changed through the years? What legal rights do journalists have, and what are the limits of those rights?
 
Facilitator: WSLR News Director Johannes Werner
Panelists: Clay Calvert. Professor of Law at the University of Florida; Jim Lake. Attorney, Thomas & LoCicero;  Joy Mayer. Founder of Trusting News

Public Forum #6: Community News and Democracy

A thriving democracy relies on an informed and engaged electorate. Local news, in particular, is essential to civic engagement, trust, voter participation, and community vitality. Now more than ever, it can be a critical tool to help combat misinformation and polarization.
 
In this final event of our series of public newsroom forums, we will discuss the role that local news plays in supporting healthy local democratic practices.
 
Facilitator: Maria Vesperi – anthropology faculty, New College of Florida
PanelistsBrian Ries, engagement editor, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Matthew Sauer, collaboration and impact officer, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation; and Mary Shedden, news director, WUSF Public Media
 

Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.