California Humanities Presents “Journalism and Democracy in California”

The free event held at San Jose State will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and journalists discussing the news industry in California
Journalism forum.jpg

On Thursday, June 16, the public is invited to attend, “Journalism and Democracy in California,” a forum hosted by San Jose State and organized by California Humanities in partnership with the Pulitzer Prize Board.

The free event is the third of a six-part series, On the Road with California Humanities, “a state-wide series of talks featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, scholars, journalists and other notable thinkers. These discussions are aimed at deepening the public’s engagement with current issues through the humanities lens of critical discourse and multiple viewpoints," while shedding "a light on diverse, contemporary and compelling issues facing" California, according to a press release.

California Humanities President and CEO, Julie Fry, explained in an interview with BenitoLink that Thursday’s topic was born from a conversation she had with Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Héctor Tobar, who is the forum’s moderator.

The discussion will center on “the evolution and future of journalism in the state that’s been part of the information revolution,” according to the event’s flier.

Fry hopes that attendees leave with a greater sense of empowerment, as well as an acute awareness when scanning the day’s headlines. 

“I hope people will push for excellence and demand truth in reporting, while reading the news a little differently,” Fry said.

Among the featured panelists at next week’s forum is New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist, Frances Dinkelspiel. In 2009, she founded Berkeleyside, a critically-acclaimed online news site serving Berkeley.

In her interview with BenitoLink, Dinkelspiel explained that news sites like Berkeleyside and BenitoLink are a “critical part of the journalism ecosystem,” and a fundamental pillar to the democratic process, carefully watching the underpinnings of civil society by reporting on local government, like city council and school board meetings.

She also said these news services, ironically, are in some ways a “return to the past,” harkening back to a time when 19th-Century dailies ran stories and columns on local people and interests.

The viability of sites such as BenitoLink, she explained, rests with their ability to provide the quality information expected by readers. In turn, readers will be more willing to financially support their news service through private donations or sponsorships paid for by local businesses, she added.

And though Dinkelspiel doesn’t expect large circulations, like the New York Times and San Jose Mercury News, to disappear from the information landscape, she stated that she foresees a news industry that’s “smaller and more targeted demographically," noting that there won't be "a one-size fits all model in the future."

Having witnessed first-hand the demise of print publications and the danger posed by the elimination of news sources, Dinkelspiel wants attendees to next week’s forum to return home with "a better appreciation of the fragility of the news business and to understand its importance.” 

Click here to register for “Journalism and Democracy in California.

For more information about the event, contact California Humanities Program Associate, Erin Menne, [email protected] 

Click here for more information on upcoming On the Road with California Humanities events.


Frank Pérez

I’m a lifelong resident of San Benito County. I reside in Hollister with my wife, Brenda. For over two decades, I've been a faculty member at San Benito High School, where I teach world history, Mexican-American history, and Ethnic Studies. I've been reporting for BenitoLink since 2015. My passion is delving deeper into the nuances of the local, historical record, while including lesser-known stories of our past. My hope is that county residents will have a greater appreciation for the diversity and complexity of San Benito County, realizing that its uniqueness depends upon our responsibility as its stewards.