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Wed 6/21, 2023, 7:30pm
Town Hall Seattle and South Seattle Emerald present
Saving Journalism, Saving Our Democracy
With Florangela Davila, Jelani Cobb, Michael McPhearson, and Frank Blethen


If journalism is the lifeblood of our democracy, then why does it feel like its chronically on life support?

Nationally, thousands of news outlets have been crushed under the weight of financial distress. The few that survive are driven by profit motives, rather than seeking to educate and inform.

Locally, we’ve witnessed the closures of the Seattle Chinese PostThe Seattle Post-IntelligencerThe Seattle Weekly, and the Seattle Globalist. While other outlets have been forced to either go exclusively online or operate with skeleton newsrooms.

So, what is to be done to halt the decay of one of society’s most essential organs?

While many bemoan the decline of journalism, there are also solutions being explored for how to ensure that every community both locally and nationally is afforded journalism that is factual, accurate, and accessible.

Join Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen, KNKX News Director Florangela Davila, and South Seattle Emerald Executive Director Michael McPhearson as they discuss a pathway to a vibrant local media ecosystem that is a force for the public. The discussion will be moderated by Deloris Irwin of the League of Women Voters.

Florangela Davila has been a journalist since 1992. For 14 years she worked at The Seattle Times, covering race and immigration. She also served as managing editor and news host at KCTS 9. The child of immigrants from Colombia and Peru, she was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley and Columbia University. She’s earned numerous individual and team journalism honors in print, online and broadcast, most recently three regional Murrow awards for KNKX.

Jelani Cobb is the Dean of Journalism at Columbia University. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2015. He received a Peabody Award for his 2020 PBS Frontline film Whose Vote Counts? and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary in 2018. He has also been a political analyst for MSNBC since 2019.

Michael McPhearson is the executive director of the South Seattle Emerald. He is the former executive director of Veterans For Peace. As co-coordinator of the Ferguson/St. Louis Don’t Shoot Coalition and leading a delegation to support the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, he recognizes the critical role of community media for social change. He has testified before Congress and is currently a board member of the ACLU of Washington.

Frank Blethen is the publisher of The Seattle Times and the great-grandson of the 126-year-old company’s founder.

Delores Irwin is co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Washington committee that produced the 2022 study “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy.” She graduated from Cal State University, Fullerton, with a BA in Communications/Journalism, and was a newspaper reporter for several years at Southern California newspapers, including the Orange County Register. She is a former public information officer for a city and also worked for a public hospital and a community college district, all in Southern California. She is the former League president in Kittitas County. 

Presented by Town Hall Seattle and South Seattle Emerald.

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