Award-winning journalists to discuss role of the press

A strong and independent press plays a critical role in a healthy democracy. At a time of crippling polarization and the closing of newsrooms across the country, how is American’s Fourth Estate doing?

On Nov. 14, NPR’s David Folkenflik ’91, Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist in the College of Arts and Sciences, will moderate a panel of noted journalists and faculty who will discuss “Free Press in a Free Society: U.S. Newsrooms on the Front Lines.”

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Kiplinger Theater in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are free but registration is required; the public is welcome.

Panelists will be Sewell Chan, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune and Suzanne Mettler, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions in the Department of Government (A&S).

“We find ourselves at a pivotal moment as a society,” Folkenflik said. “The press is not just chronicling that moment, but finding itself cast as a player, facing challenges to its credibility online, on the campaign trail and on the streets, in courtrooms, in corporate boardrooms and even from within its own newsrooms.

“These accomplished guests will help shed light on how judgments are made by news leaders, how journalism is rising to meet this test and how first principles apply in a rapidly evolving age,” Folkenflik added.

Folkenflik serves as NPR’s media correspondent. His stories and analyses are broadcast on multiple NPR programs, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Here & Now; he previously served as host of On Point. He was named one of the 50 most influential people in American media by Business Insider.

Chan worked at the New York Times in multiple roles and at the Washington Post before joining the Los Angeles Times as deputy managing editor and then editorial page editor. At the LA Times he oversaw coverage that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 2021. He joined the Texas Tribune as editor-in-chief in 2021.

Mettler's research and teaching focus on American political development, public policy and political behavior. She is particularly interested in issues pertaining to democracy (both democratization and backsliding), inequality and citizenship. Her most recent book is “Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy.”

“Free Press in a Free Society” is part of the Distinguished Visiting Journalist program in the College of Arts and Sciences and of Cornell’s Freedom of Expression theme year.

The Distinguished Visiting Journalist program is funded through a significant endowment from Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 and Barry Zubrow, as well as additional philanthropic support from Carol MacCorkle ’64, Jay Branegan ’72, Rose Gutfeld Edwards ’78 and the Dr. Guinevere Griest ’44 Fund for Public Engagement in A&S.

Editor's Note: This story was edited to reflect a change in panelists.

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Free Press in a Free Society: U.S. Newsrooms on the Front Lines