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journalism

Our guest, Robin Givhan, is the only person to win a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism. Writing for the Washington Post, Givhan took apart then-Vice President Dick Cheney's attire during a ceremony to mark the liberation of Auschwitz. She wrote, "The vice president was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower." And while diners in high-end restaurants routinely wear jeans and t-shirts, Givhan believes that changing norms do not absolve world leaders of solemnly marking occasions with their own fashion choices.

She's coming to Syracuse University this week, but first she joins us to talk about her work, her book, and where we should draw the line when it comes to critiquing what someone else is wearing.

  • Robin Givhan, fashion editor for the Washington Post
  • Eric Grode, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism Program at Syracuse University

In the media world, journalists aim to cover the news, not become news. They work to gain trust and access to key sources and stories, not become barred and banned from voices the public needs to hear from. Restricting media outlets from access to politicians, law enforcement agents, education leaders and others is an ongoing problem for journalists, including those in the Rochester region. On this edition of Need to Know, Rochester journalists and news directors dig into the access issue beyond the headlines as of late.

How much should journalists rely on anonymous sources? Every organization treats this issue with its own standards. There is not a single rule or guideline. Some newsrooms are weighing whether to scrap reporting if no sources will go on the record. Others, like the New York Times, run entire stories based on conversations with anonymous sources -- for example, the recent controversial piece about Trump's selection for Energy Secretary, Rick Perry.

In the age of Trump, there might be more temptation to use anonymous sources, as reporters try to peel back what's going on in Washington. What should the standards be? Our guests:

Did BuzzFeed make a mistake by publishing the entire dossier of unverified links between Donald Trump and Russia? Editor-in-chief Ben Smith says no; he errs on the side of sunlight, and he views BuzzFeed as part of a new kind of media paradigm. But traditional journalists have said it was a reckless decision, a mistake.

Our panel debates the decision, and the future of disseminating information. In studio:

  • Tianna Manon, editor-in-chief of Open Mic Rochester
  • David Riley, former government reporter for the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Jack Rosenberry, journalism professor at St. John Fisher College
  • Jim Memmott, journalist with the Democrat & Chronicle and professor at the University of Rochester

Author Seth Godin points out the following: "The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books." Godin writes that there has always been broccoli and candy when it comes to culture... but what happens if everything becomes candy?

What happens if all we read is click-bait? Heck, Godin notes that even Bravo and the History Channel have reality dating competitions. He urges us to "vote with our clicks," for starters, and we see if our panel agrees:

  • Erica Bryant, columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Tom Proietti, resident scholar in media at St. John Fisher College
  • Eric Grode, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism program at Syracuse University and author of The Book of Broadway

So-called "fake news" continues to offer problems. Sometimes it's propaganda. Sometimes it's a hoax. Sometimes it's unsourced, bad information.

Public media has a vital role in helping the public sort through what is real and what is not. We discuss that role, how it's performed, and whether our guests think fake news is here to stay. Our guests:

Open Mic Roc is a locally based, online black publication, with news, interviews, opinion pieces, and a platform for discussion.

Recently, Open Mic has covered the debate over La Marketa in the City of Rochester. On Thursday, the staff sat down for an interview with Mayor Lovely Warren, a sign of growing respect for what Open Mic is doing.

On December 27, the staff published a piece that included a graphic with the words, "You're pretty for a black girl." The story was about microaggressions: what they are, how they impact people, and how to recognize them.

This hour, we explore the work that Open Mic is doing with members of its staff:

"Post-truth." "Fake news." It's a new world of information and misinformation, and for journalists, it's about to get even more challenging.

President-Elect Trump has shown consistent hostility to news organizations. Considering that, is this a moment of reckoning for the entire industry? Why do so many Americans profess such rancor to the press? How might that change? Our guests:

Should newspapers make political endorsements? While endorsing candidates has been a long-held tradition for many newspapers, this year’s presidential election has reignited the debate about the role of editorial boards.

Dozens of publications -- including some Republican-leaning papers -- have endorsed Hillary Clinton. Far fewer have endorsed Donald Trump. USA Today, which has never before endorsed a presidential candidate, published an anti-endorsement of Trump. But how much influence do endorsements (or anti-endorsements) have in shaping voters’ opinions?

We examine the ethics of endorsements and the role of newspapers in American politics. Our guests:

  • Julie Philipp, senior engagement editor for the Democrat and Chronicle
  • Sean Carroll, executive producer for 13WHAM-TV
  • Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian and the Wyoming County Free Press

Assemblyman Bill Nojay's suicide has raised questions about possible fraud charges he was facing. Should the public have access to that information? The Democrat & Chronicle says yes. It's unusual for someone accused of a crime to die before the criminal complaint or indictment can be unsealed.

We talk to the D&C's reporting team of Gary Craig and Steve Orr, who broke the story about possible fraud charges. They not only explain why the newspaper is pushing for public release; they take us through the extraordinary events of Friday that led to their initial story.

Then we discuss suicide prevention with Kristina Mossgraber, events coordinator with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Rochester chapter. She shares her own story, and discusses resources for suicide prevention.

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