Kathleen Dunn, a retired public radio host was putting the panel together, along with a bunch of other high-powered League of Women Voters members. She told me I had between five and eight minutes to talk about navigating the media landscape and helping people find reliable sources of information.
Bonnie North, a reporter and host at WUWM, our local public radio affiliate, was moderating. She’d be fresh off a three-week reporter exchange program in Germany.
I felt a lot of pressure. Remembering that all I needed to do was find some good sources. because four other panelists would also be presenting was helpful. Their wisdom would complement whatever I had to say.
Jon Meacham was there via video, with a presentation he filmed especially for the event. His part was first, and it might have been great to have him around during the Q&A. I have mixed feelings about it. Because one thing that struck me in retrospect was that all five of us, who’d never met before the event, were incredibly respectful of each other. I’ve seen panels where presenters were fighting for mic time, and this wasn’t like that – everyone was interested in what each other had to say and I think the 100 or so people who ventured out on a chilly Saturday morning got something good out of it.
Ashley Luthern, a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, followed Meacham. ; Yours Truly (who was delighted to be in such amazing company), Young Mie Kim, a professor in School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin; and Amy Shapiro, a Philosophy and Humanities professor at Alverno College in Milwaukee.
I prepared a Powerpoint that visually mirrored what I was saying. I’m not a fan of Powerpoint presentations that just echo what a presenter says.
The other presenters were fascinating, but if I had to award a prize, it would be to Dr. Kim. She talked about Facebook and the ads that ran leading up to the 2016 election. Her research is into who bought them and who they targeted and their objectives.
Among her more horrible findings? A drive to encourage African-American voters to protest by not voting and creating posts that were designed not to change the minds of people in their particular corners, but rather to drive them toward greater hatred of those with different views.
Bonnie peppered her introductions and questions with astute observations picked up during each of our presentations, one of the marks of a great journalist.
The League posted the presentation on Youtube, and I’ve posted it below. My 10-or-so minutes starts at about 26 and goes to 35. Ashley’s starts at about 14 minutes in, Dr. Kim is at the 35 minute mark and Dr. Shapiro is probably at about 56.
You can see it here: