UNO hosts Humanities Nebraska’s “An Issue of Trust: Democracy and the Future of Journalism.”

David Fahrenthold, Victoria De-Francesco Soto and Henry Cordes discuss problems facing journalism today. Photo by Maria Nevada.

Jessica Wade

Members of the Nebraska University system and the general public gathered at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Milo Bail Student Center on Oct. 30 for a “community conversation” titled, “An Issue of Trust: Democracy and the Future of Journalism.”

“An Issue of Trust: Democracy and the Future of Journalism” hosted by UNO is one of six community conversations developed by Humanities Nebraska. Kearney, Lincoln and North Platte will all have similar events this month. This program series is part of a national “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

The event was organized by Humanities Nebraska and featured a panel of regional and national journalists, including the Omaha World-Herald’s Henry Cordes, political scientist Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold. UNO’s Dr. Barbara Pickering served as moderator.

Humanities Nebraska Executive Director Chris Sommerich said the fact that Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer prize in 2017 made him even more appealing to have on the panel.

“The reason we brought this particular group of panelists together is that we wanted to put both a national face and a local face on the panel and [give] have people have the chance to explore these issues around journalism and democracy and how it affects them locally and nationally,” Sommerich said.

The panelists gave opening statements before opening participation to the audience. Some audience members shared comments, like UNO journalism and communications professor Dr. Chris Allen who suggested the event be called The Future of Democracy and Journalism, “because each depends on the other.”

Others asked somewhat pointed questions, like one man who asked Cordes why the World-Herald decides to endorse candidates, referring to the paper’s recent endorsement of Congressman Don Bacon. Cordes explained that there is a common misunderstanding between what is editorial and what is news.

Fahrenthold said he feels these discussions are important.

“It’s one thing to sort of sit among a bunch of other people who are journalists who all think the way that I do, but to actually go out and speak with people who are the consumers, the people we’re writing for, I love doing it,” Fahrenthold said.