“Dangerous Intersection: News Media and Politics” is the theme of a conference we will be hosting April 7 at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s new campus center, to celebrate our new Center on Media and Society. We will be focusing on two themes: The News Media and Political Power (which I am teaching this semester) and Ethnic and Community Media. We begin with a breakfast with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, then host a roundtable of local ethnic and community journalists to consider what Sandy Close and her New California Media collaborative have done out west (ethnic Pulitzer Prizes, story exchanges, etc.), and then on to lunch with Harvard Prof. Thomas Patterson explaining the relationship between news consumption and voting patterns, UMass’s Lou DiNatale will release a new Massachusetts poll including findings about local voters’ news preferences and political views. In the afternoon, a panel from Facing History and Ourselves will discuss an exciting curriculum we are developing together to teach about how media, history and identity can be used to help students make moral choices today. If you are interested in attending the conference it is free but the tickets are going fast. Contact me atellen@ellenhume.com if you wish to attend.

The Buzz: We have a rare opportunity to teach about how journalism and politicians interact as the Democrats bring their national convention to our city (July 26-29) and prepare to nominate a native son (John Kerry) as their standard bearer. To enable students to experience high-stakes national politics close up, the Center will publish a special student newspaper, THE BOSTON BUZZ, about media issues and other political news, for the conventioneers. This project is a joint venture between UMass Boston and Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism program, including student journalists from UMass, the Harvard Crimson newspaper, and the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

Other news: A new edition of my Media Missionaries report is about to emerge from the Knight Foundation’s presses, and also will be posted on this site. It has been updated from the original 2002 report.

Training: I led a workshop on investigative reporting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last October, and visited a reporter who had been beaten by police and left for dead. It reminds us how hard it is to do real journalism in most countries. The young journalists I met were dedicated and optimistic, despite all the challenges they face daily in trying to report what their government is doing.

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