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Real News Day

By Claudio Neu-Reis, Journalism Studies Senior 

Attendees at the Estlow Luncheon during Real News Day 2018On April 27, a day the Governor of Colorado had proclaimed Real News Day, the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media at DU, along with the Denver Press Club, hosted events in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the University of Denver Estlow Lecture series. Real News Day provided several opportunities for students and community members to discuss pertinent issues of the media industry with professionals, scholars, and community leaders who care deeply about the current state of evidence-based news. Events included a breakfast at the Capitol, lunch with 25th anniversary lecturer Washington Post reporter Kimberly Kindy, an unveiling of the recently digitized DU Clarion archives, a VIP meeting of select DU students with Washington Post editor Marty Baron at the Denver Press Club, and a festive gala dinner at the Denver Athletic Club.

The morning panel at the Capitol featured University of Denver scholars, government officials, media professionals and community members who discussed the impact of the #MeToo movement. Eight panelists considered social media's role in the spread of information, movement building, and ultimately policy making. Speakers included Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post, Director of the Colorado Chapter of 9to5 Neha Mahajan, Colorado Coalition against Sexual Assault's Director Dr. Lisa Ingarfield, Professor and Director of the University of Denver's Workplace Law Program Dr. Rachel Arnow-Richman, DU Professor and Chair of the Communications Studies Department Dr. Christina Foust, MFJS and Health Communication Professor Dr. Renée A. Botta and Estlow Center Director and MFJS Department Professor and Chair Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark. The panel, organized by Foust and Botta with assistance from Professor and Socio-legal Studies Program Director Nancy Reichman, answered questions regarding how the MeToo movement and sexual assault have impacted the media, how media professionals should cover and handle situations involving sexual assault, and what policy steps are needed to foster fair workplaces.

Kimberly Kindy speaks at the Estlow Luncheon during Real News DayPanelists suggested that the #MeToo movement, while portrayed in some media as a white women's movement, addresses itself to a large population of women of varying racial ethnic and economic backgrounds who are subjected to sexual assault and harassment, such as those who work in the fast food and food service industries, for instance. Kindy observed that the movement has foregrounded the face of the perpetrator, revealing that they are not always corporate elites. "This is so pervasive and so common," she stated, "that even people who you consider to be upstanding citizens -- not predators like Harvey Weinstein -- they are perpetrators." She underscored the movement's importance, noting, "it wasn't some extraneous thing that didn't relate to them, happens to almost every woman in America."

House Speaker Duran, a DU graduate, commented on the #MeToo movement's impact within government and higher education contexts. "When you are in an elective office, you do not have a regular boss," she noted. " I do not hire or fire other legislators, and when you think about that, it's the voters who gets people into office, and it's voters who make determinations about whether individuals should stay in elected offices or not." This dynamic makes it difficult for people working in the legislature to speak out about incidents of sexual assault within their workplaces. Duran has taken a leading position in advocating for programs that support harassment victims. "That is one of the things we're really trying to change here, is you make sure that regardless of which position you are in, that people feel comfortable in reporting," she said. Victims also need to have some control over the way that reports are handled, she said.

At noon, the Cable Center was host to the 25th anniversary Estlow luncheon and lecture, which honored Kindy with the Estlow Anvil of Freedom Award. Kindy, who traced the rise of "fake news" and the need to support credible journalism, was recognized for her role as lead reporter with the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of police shootings in 2016. Prior to Kindy's lecture, the Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies recognized now-former Editorial Page Editor Chuck PlunkettChuck Plunkett accepts his Journalism in the Public Interest Award from MFJS at the Estlow Luncheon during Real News Day of the Denver Post with the Journalism in the Public Interest award for his courageous work in curating numerous editorials that highlighted the many layoffs that Post has endured over the past five years and the costs to the community as a result. He noted that the Post staff had been reduced from its peak at 300 to 70 reporters today. "We need to remember -- especially in Digital First Media papers -- that our first obligation is to the truth, and to our readers. Nothing should ever change that, or our profession would become meaningless," said Plunkett.

Later that evening, the Denver Press Club hosted its annual Damon Runyon dinner, honoring Washington Post Editor Marty Baron, who spoke of the vitally important role of journalism for democracy. Kindy was recognized as the 25th anniversary Estlow lecturer, and DU Journalism and Gender and Women's Studies student Leah Swander received DU's Press Club scholarship. Faculty, staff, alumni, and several students attended the gala, including current DU Clarion reporters Grace Carson and Daniela Santos.

Governor Hickenlooper's Real News Day 2018 proclamation