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Colorado Press Women http://coloradopresswomen.org Thu, 02 Nov 2017 20:30:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Coloradans do well in national competition http://coloradopresswomen.org/coloradans-well-national-competition/ Fri, 27 Oct 2017 03:37:18 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12735 Colorado Press Women members don’t enter the professional communications contest often these days, but when they do, they fare well against tough competition – two first-place awards, one second place and one third! Sonja Marie Horoshko of Cortez, writing for the Four Corners Free Press, took first in the Specialty Articles-Government or Politics category for [...]

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Colorado Press Women members don’t enter the professional communications contest often these days, but when they do, they fare well against tough competition – two first-place awards, one second place and one third!

Sonja Marie Horoshko of Cortez, writing for the Four Corners Free Press, took first in the Specialty Articles-Government or Politics category for her articles about Navajo voting in southeast Utah (beating out competitors from Arkansas, New Mexico and Nebraska). In the Continuing Coverage/Unfolding News category, she took third place with a series of articles about conflict between tribes and their opponents over the Bear Ears National Monument (winners came from Delaware and New Mexico).

Chelsey Baker-Hauck of Denver, CBH Brand Strategy, earned a first place for a news release she wrote about a Metropolitan State University of Denver study on the impact of a minimum-wage increase on Colorado women and families (beating entries from Nebraska, Texas and North Dakota).

Jane Bock of Boulder, Professor Emerita, took second place in General Nonfiction Books with “Forensic Plant Science” against entries from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware.

All three women were able to enter the national contest of the National Federation of Press Women by placing first in a category of the At-Large NFPW contest. The 2018 NFPW At-Large Communications opened for entries Oct. 1. Contestants save $25 by entering before the Jan. 23, 2018 early bird deadline.

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Fun tour of Pueblo a real mind-changer http://coloradopresswomen.org/fun-tour-pueblo-real-mind-changer/ Thu, 10 Aug 2017 22:38:26 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12697 Randy Thurston is on a mission to dispel many of the preconceptions about Pueblo, Colo. When asked about what makes his hometown special, the former Pueblo City Councilman easily can come up with more than 30 reasons. Three hundred days of sunshine tops the list that also includes a well-kept landscaped riverwalk, a symphony, zoo [...]

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Randy Thurston is on a mission to dispel many of the preconceptions about Pueblo, Colo. When asked about what makes his hometown special, the former Pueblo City Councilman easily can come up with more than 30 reasons. Three hundred days of sunshine tops the list that also includes a well-kept landscaped riverwalk, a symphony, zoo and an art center, multiple museums, a notable chili festival, the local food favorite “sloppers” (open-faced cheeseburgers topped with green chili) and much more. Steel mill? Still operating. It recycles steel.

Thurston touted the city’s attributes and shared some of its history with a small but enthusiastic group of Colorado Press Women who traveled to the southern Colorado city recently to learn more about the community. In addition to hearing Thurston’s presentation, the CPW delegates toured Colorado State University-Pueblo’s  Mass Communications and Center for New Media facilities and learned about the program from Department Chair Leticia Steffen and student ambassador Dez Rowe.

Thurston, a real estate broker and local history buff, also acknowledged some of the issues that still dog the city of 100,000. In seeking to bring new businesses and jobs to the community, city officials “never fully broke out of the industrial thinking” that was fostered during the heyday of steel production and unions. Subsequently, “we are losing our kids” to better jobs and opportunities elsewhere, he said.

Attending the talk by Department Chair Leticia Steffen (center) were (l to r) Marilyn Saltzman, Carol Anderson, Liz Watts, Ann Lockhart, Gay Porter DeNileon and Bobbi Gigone.

At the beginning of this century, the city wooed and won a large McDonnell Douglas aviation training facility with a tax incentive package. But when the incentive obligation was completed, the company left, leaving an economic hole that has been partially filled by the luring of the Professional Bull Riders headquarters and the Vestas wind turbine production facility.

Meanwhile, CSU-Pueblo offers an opportunity for a quality education on a small but well-equipped campus. The media department boasts full television and radio production studios, hands-on internships and individualized mentoring.

Using student talent, the television studio produces three programs for Rocky Mountain PBS, including the live Homework Hotline, a call-in program that airs on KTSC/Rocky Mountain PBS Channel 8 in Pueblo during the school year.

Senior student Rowe has experience both on air and behind the microphone. She demonstrated her disc jockey chops to the CPW crew with a promo tape she recorded earlier for the radio station, Rev 89, an award-winning student-run enterprise.

— by Gay Porter DeNileon, photo courtesy Ann Lockhart

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CPW urges Senate hearing on state of free press http://coloradopresswomen.org/cpw-urges-senate-hearing-state-free-press/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 04:25:25 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12687 Colorado Press Women joined the Society of Professional Journalists and 29 other organizations in urging the Senate Commerce Committee to hold a hearing on the state of media in the United States. The committee, which hosted a hearing on the State of Journalism in May 2009, has oversight jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission's role [...]

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Colorado Press Women joined the Society of Professional Journalists and 29 other organizations in urging the Senate Commerce Committee to hold a hearing on the state of media in the United States. The committee, which hosted a hearing on the State of Journalism in May 2009, has oversight jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission’s role in broadcast media licensing and communications networks.  “Having an open discussion where journalists can talk about their professions, the industry and explain how it all works will hopefully help rebuild trust in a pillar of our democracy, reaffirming to the American people the link between the strength of our nation’s democracy and its free press,” the groups said.  Read the letter.

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Talk covers status of Colorado newspapers http://coloradopresswomen.org/talk-covers-status-colorado-newspapers/ Thu, 25 May 2017 05:15:52 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12626 Corey Hutchins came to Colorado Press Women’s May 20 meeting to talk about matters newspapers don’t usually report on. For example: owners who are cutting staff costs and milking the cash out of Colorado newspapers. Moving newsrooms out of the communities they report on. The threat that Facebook now constitutes for the small community papers [...]

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Corey Hutchins came to Colorado Press Women’s May 20 meeting to talk about matters newspapers don’t usually report on. For example: owners who are cutting staff costs and milking the cash out of Colorado newspapers. Moving newsrooms out of the communities they report on. The threat that Facebook now constitutes for the small community papers that have been protected financially.

As a journalist for The Colorado Independent, Colorado correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review, visiting lecturer at Colorado College and author of a regular email report on Colorado news media, Hutchins has made it his business to find out what’s going on and identify trends. (To get on his mailing list, send him a message at coreyhutchins@gmail.com.)

Hutchins is impressed by the Fort Collins Coloradoan, which has gotten openly involved with legislation — not something journalists commonly do, even if the legislation concerns freedom of the press and bringing Freedom of Information requests into the digital world.

He also lauded the Coloradoan’s work on community engagement. Its approach has included combining brews and news ­— inviting the community to talk face-to-face over beers with a top Coloradoan reporter. If that proves popular in the brew-loving city, Hutchins predicted Gannett, the Coloradoan’s owners, may try selling tickets to the events and taking it to other communities.

A different way of making money is being pursued by another owner of Colorado papers, the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which owns The Denver Post as well as the papers in Loveland, Longmont and Boulder. In most of those cities, the reporters’ offices are no longer located in the communities their mastheads purport they cover.

The Denver Post’s shining building on Civic Center, a short hike from the Colorado Capitol and Denver City Hall, is being sold while the newsroom is moving to Adams County. Likewise, the Loveland and Longmont newsrooms operate out of the Boulder Daily Camera’s building. “It’s a credibility issue,” says Hutchins. The newspapers’ owner is cutting reporters, which hamstrings news coverage, while milking the cash (a.k.a., selling the buildings) out of the publications. The question Hutchins left unanswered is what happens once the cash cow runs dry.

He noted that conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz was rebuffed in his offer to buy The Denver Post, so he bought the Colorado Springs Gazette and has set about turning a famously conservative-biased editorial product into a creditable one, largely by hiring an editor from The Washington Post. Hutchins opined that Anschutz is painting a portrait of himself as the “elder statesman” of Colorado journalism while still hoping to buy The Post.

With the death of Pueblo Chieftain publisher Bob Rawlings, that rarity of a family-owned newspaper is up for sale. Turning his attention to the Western Slope, Hutchins says the Grand Junction Sentinel’s owner decided not to go through with his threat to sue a state senator who described the paper as “fake news.” The slur did hurt the paper’s bottom line, which provided grounds for a successful suit in the opinion of the publisher (a former litigator), but he balked at costing the taxpayers money to defend their state senator.

Community papers — the weeklies that survive on legal notices and news so local no big city paper cares to cover it — have been protected financially from the rapacious trends in the industry. People prefer to get their news from their local paper, even in Yuma, where citizens complain that the Pioneer Press never publishes interviews with hometown boy Sen. Cory Gardner anymore. Facebook pages where people post their own news about their community — for free — put pressure on local papers’ cozy niche, however.

Hutchins urged Press Women to see Columbia Journalism Review’s latest issue, which is dedicated to local papers. https://www.cjr.org/local_news/the-print-edition-local-news.php.

Story by Sandy Nance. Photo by Sandy Graham

CORRECTION: Edited May 30 to correct the title of the Grand Junction politician (a state senator, not a county commissioner) and to add Hutchins’ position with The Colorado Independent, which he hopes Press Women will read.

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Ruth Anna, 2017 Winner http://coloradopresswomen.org/ruth-anna-2017-winner/ Sat, 06 May 2017 00:05:39 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12594 In work spanning more than 45 years, Ruth Anna has ardently defended the First Amendment and Colorado’s open records laws as a board member of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, led both CPW and NFPW as president, founded Anna Public Relations Consultants – shepherding a wide range of clients – and volunteered for many [...]

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In work spanning more than 45 years, Ruth Anna has ardently defended the First Amendment and Colorado’s open records laws as a board member of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, led both CPW and NFPW as president, founded Anna Public Relations Consultants – shepherding a wide range of clients – and volunteered for many community organizations. She speaks frankly, passionately and sincerely in all she does.

Ruth was born Jan. 29, 1949, in her parents’ car during a snowstorm en route to the hospital. She grew up on a farm, homesteaded by her grandparents, near the small town of Otis on Colorado’s Eastern Plains. She learned to study issues and take positions from her father, a farmer and rancher who believed in speaking up about community and political issues.

She was a grade-schooler when she decided to study journalism in order to have an impact on public opinion – and was one of a few women at the time to follow the radio/TV track at the University of Colorado, where she earned a journalism degree. She has been a Press Woman since 1976. She served as president of Colorado Press Women 1988-91 and was elected president of the National Federation of Press Women 1995-97.

“There is no one quite like Ruth,” says Sandy Nance, CPW president. “She has worked tirelessly for Press Women, for freedom of the press and for First Amendment rights, whether she’s serving the public interest via her county’s library system or helping put Colorado’s Freedom of Information Coalition on solid financial footing. She is highly regarded by those on the CFOIC board and by her clients. I value her counsel. She speaks her mind and defends her beliefs. We are proud to honor her as Colorado’s COA and nominate her for national Communicator of Achievement.”

 

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Congratulations to CPW contestants http://coloradopresswomen.org/congratulations-four-cpw-members/ Fri, 05 May 2017 23:26:28 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12602 Coloradans raked in four first-place awards and four honorable mentions when they entered the NFPW 2017 At-Large Communications Contest. Those first-place wins qualify them to compete in the NFPW national contest, with awards presented at the 2017 NFPW Communications Conference Sept. 7-9. ·         Chelsey Baker-Hauck, First Place in public relations news or feature release: “Study Predicts [...]

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Coloradans raked in four first-place awards and four honorable mentions when they entered the NFPW 2017 At-Large Communications Contest. Those first-place wins qualify them to compete in the NFPW national contest, with awards presented at the 2017 NFPW Communications Conference Sept. 7-9.

·         Chelsey Baker-Hauck, First Place in public relations news or feature release: “Study Predicts Positive Impact of Minimum-Wage Increase on Colorado Women and Families”

·         Chelsey Baker-Hauck, Honorable Mention in speeches: Graduate School of Social Work Dean’s Award luncheon keynote

·         Jane Bock Ph.D., First Place in general nonfiction books for adult readers: “Forensic Plant Science”

·         Jane Bock, Ph.D., Honorable Mention in novels for adult readers: “Coronado’s Trail”

·         Donna Bryson, Honorable Mention in news story-online: “The Teen Nazi Suicide That Wasn’t”

·         Donna Bryson, Honorable Mention in continuing coverage/unfolding news stories (up to six): “Colorado’s Ethnic Mosaic”

·         Sonja Marie Horoshko, First Place in continuing coverage/unfolding news: “Tribal coalition pulls out of Utah legislative process”; “Crunch time for a public-lands bill: Will Utah’s ‘Grand Bargain’ succeed, or be quashed by opponents?”; “PLI legislation is introduced at last: Supporters say it’s the right solution; critics, that it’s too little, too late”; “Sparks fly over differing Bears Ears proposals

·         Sonja Marie Horoshko, First Place in special articles – government or politics: “San Juan County, Utah, told to redraw districts: Order could mean changes for the county commission”; “Are mail-in ballots unfair to Navajo voters?: The question spawns conflicting suits in San Juan County

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Reporter-turned-PIO still promotes open records http://coloradopresswomen.org/reporter-turned-pio-still-promotes-open-records/ Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:12:27 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12573 Lynn Bartels speaks to CPW. Lynn Bartels fears a legislative attempt to bring Colorado’s Open Records Act into the 21st century has been set up to fail, and that that might lead proponents of change to try their luck at the ballot. Bartels, a former reporter who is the spokeswoman for the Colorado [...]

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Lynn Bartels speaks to CPW.

Lynn Bartels fears a legislative attempt to bring Colorado’s Open Records Act into the 21st century has been set up to fail, and that that might lead proponents of change to try their luck at the ballot.

Bartels, a former reporter who is the spokeswoman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, talked Tuesday at an event organized by Colorado Press Women. Hours earlier, a state Senate committee had approved a bill that would require state agencies to provide data requested by the press and the public in their original electronic formats, which would make them easier to search and analyze. The bill now heads to the full Senate for debate.

The change, which would make public records not just open but accessible in a meaningful way in this electronic age, is supported by Bartels and her boss, Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

“I just don’t see why people hide things,’’ Bartels said at Tuesday’s event commemorating Sunshine Week, an annual, national moment to consider the importance to our democracy of access to information that belongs to the public.

The bill on electronic records, SB 17-040, was inspired by a 2015 episode involving Colorado State University and its hometown newspaper, the Coloradoan. The newspaper set out to dig deeper after a CSU statistics professor raised concern that female full professors were being paid less than their male counterparts. After CSU refused to give the newspaper its computerized record of salaries, reporters spent weeks creating their own database from documents the university did make public under CORA containing information on nearly 5,000 employees. After the Coloradoan’s stories appeared, CSU increased the pay of dozens of professors, saying it had been determined they weren’t being paid enough. A quarter of CSU’s female full professors and about 11 percent of male professors got raises.

SB 17-040 emerged from lengthy discussions convened by the Secretary of State’s Office aimed at balancing the need for openness with concerns about individuals’ privacy and manipulation of data. Officials who are custodians of records and those who want access to them — including the Coloradoan’s executive editor who represented the state’s newspapers — were involved in the talks. Before the bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, an amendment was added to have it apply to the judiciary, which has its own transparency rules. The judicial branch and Democrats who control the House oppose such an expansion of CORA.

“I think they put this amendment on it in hopes it will die,” said Bartels, who was a longtime statehouse reporter. “There was a lot of work that went into this. It would be a shame.”

Opponents of the measure risk ending “up with a ballot measure in 2018 that will have things they despise,” Bartels added.

Bartels was a journalist for 35 years, including 16 years at the Rocky Mountain News and six years at The Denver Post. She spoke at the Denver Press Club, which inducted her into its Hall of Fame in 2015.

Story and photo by Donna Bryson

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CPW joins other groups in letters to Trump supporting freedom of speech and the press http://coloradopresswomen.org/cpw-joins-groups-letters-trump-supporting-freedom-speech-press/ Sat, 04 Mar 2017 02:16:33 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12563 Colorado Press Women (CPW) joined with other organizations committed to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the press in signing two statements recently: CPW was one of 80 groups signing a statement issued March 2 by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) condemning efforts by [...]

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Colorado Press Women (CPW) joined with other organizations committed to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the press in signing two statements recently:

CPW was one of 80 groups signing a statement issued March 2 by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) condemning efforts by the Trump administration to vilify the media and undermine its ability to inform the public about official actions and policy. The groups stressed that the administration’s attacks on the press pose a threat to American democracy. The statement cites numerous attempts by the administration to penalize and intimidate the press for coverage the President dislikes, including refusing to answer questions from certain reports, falsely charging the media with cover-ups and manipulation of news, denying certain media outlets access to press briefings and even labeling mainstream media outlets as “the opposition party” and the “enemy of the American people.”  Read statement here.

CPW joined the Society of Professional Journalists and 60 other journalism groups to send a letter on Jan. 18 to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, requesting a meeting or conference call to discuss the ability of reporters to directly interact with government employees who are subject matter experts, rather than interacting with Public Information Officers (or having all conversations monitored by PIOs); to directly access the activities of the President; and to ensure that the Federal Freedom of Information Act remains as strong as possible. This letter follows a letter sent July 8, 2014 to the Obama administration that CPW also signed, along with a follow-up letter in September, 2016.

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Journalists must reclaim, reinforce media’s role http://coloradopresswomen.org/journalists-must-reclaim-reinforce-medias-role/ Fri, 17 Feb 2017 01:32:31 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12543 The topic “Restoring Trust in the Media” elicited a lively panel discussion by three university journalism professors, a newspaper editor and a high school journalism teacher, along with members of Colorado Press Women and guests at the University of Denver Feb. 4.  [Click here to see the entire two-hour discussion on YouTube.] The panel included [...]

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The topic “Restoring Trust in the Media” elicited a lively panel discussion by three university journalism professors, a newspaper editor and a high school journalism teacher, along with members of Colorado Press Women and guests at the University of Denver Feb. 4.  
[Click here to see the entire two-hour discussion on YouTube.]

The panel included Elizabeth Skewes, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado; Lynn Scofield Clark, Ph.D., of the University of Denver; Chuck Plunkett, editorial page editor of The Denver Post; and Mark Newton, journalism teacher at Mountain Vista High School and president of the National Journalism Education Association. Lee Anne Peck, Ph.D., media studies professor at the University of Northern Colorado, moderated the discussion.

“What is or is not journalism? A cell phone photo? Any piece of information sent on Twitter?” asked Skewes, who then answered her own question. “Raw information is not journalism. Journalists need a way to reclaim the [journalism] title.”

Journalism involves the hard work of looking at multiple angles of a story, sifting through all the information to decide what’s real and what can be ignored, and reporting accurately with enough backstory and context, the panelists agreed.

When she was young, Skewes recalled, her family read two newspapers and watched Walter Cronkite at night. People across America “used to have the common experience in watching and reading the news. People don’t do that anymore. Now, most people are cognitive misers. We gather just enough information to make a decision we are comfortable with.”

Plunkett cited three reasons for the current mistrust of the media. First, “I blame the media company owners.” He said a hedge fund owns a large stake of the Post and its parent company, Media News Group, so the focus is on the financial bottom line instead of the news. “One year we win the Pulitzer Prize, and the next year they cut the newsroom staff by 25 percent. So people feel betrayed… we’re not covering community meetings due to the sheer lack of manpower.”

Second is the rise of social media, 24/7, so, for many outlets, being first with news becomes more important than being right. “We need professional editors and reporters to make sure of the context and nuance of the story,” Plunkett said.

Third, copy editors and proofreaders were cut, so even small typos shake credibility in the paper. Competition from the internet is good for us, he said. “It makes us sharper, but if you add 25 or more people we will do a better job.”

Plunkett said a good editorial, op ed or letter to the editor is “based on facts, hashed out, thought through.” He and his staff spent 10 to 12 hours on one editorial about the oil and gas severance tax, talking to the Colorado Municipal League, reading reports and financial spread sheets and discussing it before writing the piece. Plus, the staff has developed collective knowledge over time that provides the critical back story.

“Newspapers should write more articles explaining how you research a story and the sources you use to come to a decision, to let readers know more about the process,” suggested Gay Porter DeNileon of Colorado Press Women, citing an informative Post article about the intricacies of the White House press pool.

Plunkett agreed, “We are too quiet on how we do our job,” adding that the Post received a lot of positive feedback on that article.

Plunkett said it’s very difficult and demoralizing when the President of the United States tells journalists to “shut your mouth and that you are the opposition party.”

He said, “When I’m in the newsroom besieged by complicated decisions, I must make decisions quickly. So I have to stay focused, stick to fundamentals, make solid journalistic decisions, and have the flexibility, creativity to do good stories.”

Social media can lead even trained journalists to marginal news stories, Plunkett said. “We follow statistics on whatever gets the most clicks, the most page views. It’s a huge temptation to chase a story to keep the numbers up.”

To which Skewes interjected, “You can never go wrong with a story on killing prairie dogs in Boulder!”

When moderator Peck asked, “What can we do to gain back the public’s trust?” Newton responded, “As a teacher in a public high school, one student, one class, one moment, one experience at a time, I can make a difference.” He said journalism “might be the most important class we can offer in high school.”

Chuck Plunkett and Mark Newton

“Financial literacy is a requirement for graduation, why not a media literacy requirement?” Newton asked. The public doesn’t understand the role of the media, he said, adding that it’s incumbent on journalists to stand up for freedom of information and expression just as people have started chipping away at the First Amendment.

Journalism is a gateway degree, Newton said. With it a person can do anything: collaborate, be a critical thinker and a problem solver, be creative and know how to communicate. But the word “journalism” has been phased out of colleges and “journalism education is undervalued. People go to the ‘media that I want’ rather than the ‘media that I need,’” Newton said. “Media class teaches engaged, informed citizenship.”

Scofield Clark agreed that media literacy and media competency are important, and noted that educators must help young people learn how to put together news and use the media to make a difference, to leverage their resources to bring about change instead of just going to media outlets that reflect their own values and ideas.

“Our society as a whole is much more stratified than ever,” Schofield Clark said. “It’s easy for us not to interact with people who have life experiences that are different than ours.” She said the “onus needs to be on social media [such as Facebook and Twitter], as distributors of ‘news,’ to build into their algorithms” methods to sort out ‘fake news’ and provide users with a variety of views, not just ones that the algorithms calculate the viewers will like.

“What does it mean to be a responsible adult in the world?” Plunkett asked. “We all need some level of daily education on what’s going on. We’re just dumbing everything down. People are less informed, more angry and divisive. It’s too easy for people to listen to one source. We need to make ourselves uncomfortable and listen to multiple sources. We’re becoming tribal in the U.S. Politics is the new religion for us.”

Noting that newspaper subscriptions are up, Plunkett wondered if younger people are part of that trend. “How do we get the young people to care about us as news organizations?” he asked. “At some level, we owe it to the social contract to subscribe” to and pay for a news service.

Journalists need to reinforce critical thought, Skewes said. “There’s power in the individual and social media connections. Before we retweet, do we verify it’s from a reputable source? Each of us can be opinion leaders in our own spheres. We have to trade in real information ourselves. We need to subscribe to actual news sites and call people on their crap.”

“We read what doesn’t challenge us, so we end up not understanding a whole swath of the country,” Skews continued. “Yes, we should talk about politics (in respectful ways).  We’ve got bridges to build. Start with questions like, “What made you decide…?

“We need to do a better job of helping persons understand how they are getting their news” affects their opinions and outlook, Skewes said. “It’s not just the message, but also the medium.”

Story and photos by Ann J. Lockhart

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Dreams, auto crashes & war were topics authors covered Nov. 5 http://coloradopresswomen.org/dreams-auto-crashes-war-topics-authors-covered-nov-5/ Thu, 01 Dec 2016 05:51:38 +0000 http://coloradopresswomen.org/?p=12492 Cynthia Swanson “It’s the small missed moments that change your life in big ways.” Novelist Cynthia Swanson described one fascinating concept that sparked her writing "The Bookseller," in which a single woman bookstore owner repeatedly dreams about a different life. Swanson, nonfiction writer Jeff Miller and novelist Nick Arvin spoke Nov. 5 at [...]

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Cynthia Swanson

Cynthia Swanson

“It’s the small missed moments that change your life in big ways.” Novelist Cynthia Swanson described one fascinating concept that sparked her writing “The Bookseller,” in which a single woman bookstore owner repeatedly dreams about a different life. Swanson, nonfiction writer Jeff Miller and novelist Nick Arvin spoke Nov. 5 at Colorado Press Women’s annual authors meeting at the Anythink Library in Thornton.

Finding a publisher took perseverance, luck and “taking myself seriously,” Swanson said. She treated the book as an investment and hired a developmental editor. After Harper Collins agreed to publish it, they delayed issuing it until after the mid-term election. “People have only so much attention span,” she said. The book is slated to be published in 12 languages.

A Pushcart Prize nominee, Swanson has published short fiction in numerous journals. “The Bookseller” was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award and the MPIBA Reading the West Award and is a finalist for the High Plains Book Award and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award. She lives with her family in Denver and is working on a second novel.

Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller

The second speaker, Jeff Miller, is a long-time magazine editor and travel writer who wrote “Behind the Lines: WWI’s Little-Known Story of Germany Occupation, Belgian Resistance, and the Band of Yanks Who Helped Save Millions from Starvation.” Germany had invaded Belgium and exerted total control over the country, allowing no mail, phones, newspapers, transportation or most importantly, food shipments to a country that relied on imports.

Herbert C. Hoover, a mining engineer living in London (later U.S. President), organized worldwide donations and funding to feed the country through his Commission for Relief of Belgium (CRB) in 1914.  Every day, 50 ships would sail into Rotterdam, Holland, where food was loaded onto barges, taken by canal into Belgium and distributed by a small group of Americans recruited for the CRB.

Miller’s grandfather, Milton M. Brown, was one of the young American CRB workers who met and later married a Belgian woman also involved in the effort. Miller’s book was included in Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014. He plans to write a second book about the massive relief effort.

Nick Arvin

Nick Arvin

The third speaker, Nick Arvin, author of “The Reconstructionist,” was late to the meeting due to a car accident on I-25. It was an ironic twist, since his book is about an engineer involved in a love triangle who reconstructs auto accidents for lawyers and insurance companies. Arvin is a mechanical engineer who once worked reconstructing auto crashes like his main character, a sometimes emotionally difficult thing to do. As a result, he is a very cautious driver, which drives his wife a little bit crazy, he said.

Arvin grew up in Michigan, earned degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and Stanford and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He has worked in automotive and forensic engineering and the design of power plants and oil and gas facilities. His two previous books were “The Electric Eden” and “Articles of War” (selected for One Book One Denver several years ago.) His work has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Salon and the Rocky Mountain News.

Arvin has received the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Boyd Award from the American Library Association and the Colorado Book Award as well as fellowships from several groups. He is on the faculty of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. He and his family live in Wheat Ridge, where “The Reconstructionist” was featured in the Wheat Ridge Reads program.

Story and photos by Ann Lockhart

The post Dreams, auto crashes & war were topics authors covered Nov. 5 appeared first on Colorado Press Women.

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