A 2018 Gallup poll shows that just 45 percent of Americans trust mass media to report news fully, accurately and fairly, which is an improvement over the 2016 low of 32 percent but a significant decrease from previous decades. With this apparent shift in public opinion, future journalists will need to forge a way forward that puts truth ahead of perspective and gains the confidence of their consumers.
The Roger Tatarian Symposium, “Putting Fake News in the Rear View Mirror: How the Media Can Win Back the Trust of all Americans,” will be held at 5 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Satellite Student Union at Fresno State. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.
“A large portion of the American public says it no longer believes what is written in the mainstream media,” said Tim Drachlis, the Roger Tatarian Chair of the Department of Media, Communications and Journalism at Fresno State. “The symposium will explore why this skepticism exists and examine ways journalists may be able to bridge this trust gap.”
The symposium will feature Stephen Engelberg, editor-in-chief of ProPublica, as the keynote speaker along with an expert panel of journalists that will examine possible ways the media can regain the trust of some segments of society.
Engelberg has served as editor-in-chief of ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism, since 2013. Engelberg is a member of the Pulitzer Prize board and the American Society of News Editors board.
He previously served as managing editor of ProPublica from 2008-13. He worked as managing editor of the Oregonian and at the New York Times, where he served as a reporter based in Washington, D.C., and served as the paper’s first investigative editor from 1999-2002. Engelberg has won two George Polk awards and supervised two projects that won Pulitzers.
The media panel will include Sewell Chan, deputy managing editor of the Los Angeles Times; Juliet Williams, Northern California news editor for The Associated Press and Scott Wilson, senior national correspondent for The Washington Post.
Chan currently oversees the news desk, copy desk, audience engagement desk and the data desk. Before coming to Los Angeles, he worked for 14 years at the New York Times, serving as a metro reporter, Washington correspondent, deputy Op-Ed editor and international news editor. He was part of a team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the scandal that brought down Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York. Chan began his career as a reporter at the Washington Post in 2000.
Williams oversees a regional team of reporters who cover a wide range of topics, including last fall’s wildfires in Paradise. Williams was named news editor after serving 12 years in the AP’s Sacramento bureau, including two years as correspondent. She previously spent five years as a reporter for AP in Milwaukee. She is a member of the board of the First Amendment Coalition and a past president of the Sacramento Press Club.
As senior national correspondent, Wilson covers California and the West. He previously served as the Post’s national editor, chief White House correspondent, deputy assistant managing editor for foreign news and as a correspondent in Latin America and the Middle East. He has received an Overseas Press Club citation, an Inter American Press Association award, the Gerald R. Ford Prize for distinguished reporting on the presidency and the White House Correspondents’ Association 2012 Aldo Beckman Award.
The Roger Tatarian Endowed Chair in Journalism was established in honor of the late Fresno State professor and former editor-in-chief of United Press International. The goal of the Roger Tatarian Symposium is to shed light on timely journalism issues.
The conference will be co-hosted by Fresno State’s Department of Media, Communications and Journalism, the College of Arts and Humanities and the Institute for Media and Public Trust. It is supported by The Collegianstudent newspaper, Fresno State Focus, Radio Television Digital News Association and the Arizona State University News Co/Lab.
(Benjamin Kirk, Timothy Drachlis and Jim Boren contributed to this story.)