News leaders hold discussion at Democratic Symposium

Ben Breier

Roughly 60 people, including Kent State president Carol Cartwright, gathered in the Kiva for the editors’ panel discussion yesterday morning. The discussion was a part of the seventh annual Symposium on Democracy.

The panel consisted of WKYC anchor Tim White, publishers John Block (Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette) and James Crutchfield (Akron Beacon Journal), Northwestern communication studies professor David Zarefsky, Ohio legislature member Kathleen Chandler and Brian Corbin of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.

The panel talked about open forum and the importance of promoting public debate pertaining to important issues.

“In an effort to be fair, right-wing radicals are placed against left-wing radicals,” Chandler said. “It discourages debates and results in arguments.”

Block said people interested in finding debates on relevant issues need to look at places other than obvious news outlets.

“There are extensive debates on homeland security – just look in other publications such as law journals, academic publications and esoteric outlets,” Block said.

White talked about how the Internet has changed the idea of public debate.

“Bloggers are like people standing on a street corner,” he said. “It’s quite all right, but it’s not a democratic forum.”

Crutchfield said he thinks the problem lies elsewhere.

“We love demand, and we love discourse, and we encourage both – it’s the reason for our (media outlets) existence,” Crutchfield said. “However, we stay on a level or argument and not on an enhancement of the discussion.”

The symposium continues at 9:15 a.m. tomorrow with a presentation by John A. Campbell on the public education of Darwinism.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Ben Breier at