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January 10, 2003


LA CROSSE, Wis.— Every day, non-stop, people are bombarded with competing messages by an array of media. And, all they’re left with are questions. What is the media’s role in influencing and shaping communities, lives, and individual actions? Join national and local journalists, media critics, and media ethicists who are gathering at Viterbo University to talk about those very issues at "Through the Looking Glass: Media, Perception, & Reality," held Feb. 3-6 on the Viterbo University campus,

All events in this series are designed to offer insight into the many issues facing media and communities. A Media Literacy Workshop, also part of the symposium, encourages parents and educators to take an active role in helping children choose appropriate media. Events are free and open to the public. Highlights include:

Monday, Feb. 3
"Adventures in the Memory Hole: The U.S. Media before and after 9-11," 7:30 p.m., in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Media critic Mark Crispin Miller takes an in-depth look at U.S. media and how it gathers, shapes, and delivers its message to the public—both before and after 9-11. Miller is professor of media ecology and director of the project on Media Ownership at New York University as well as the author of The Bush Dyslexicon. He has been featured on dozens of radio and television programs worldwide, including: BBC, National Public Radio, and Fox TV’s The O’Reilly Factor.

Tuesday, Feb. 4
"Advertising: Reading the Message," 12:10-1 p.m., Fine Arts Center Hospitality Suite. Viterbo English Professor Grant Smith will analyze ad campaigns from United Colors of Benetton and demonstrate alternative readings the ads offer about the product, consumers, and the company itself.

"Community Journalism," 5 p.m., Fine Arts Center Lobby.
Panelists: Sean Dwyer, WXOW-TV 19; Gene Purcell, WLSU Radio; Scott Robert  Shaw, WIZM Radio; and Richard Mial or John Smalley, La Crosse Tribune; Moderator: Anne Paape, WKBT: Journalists have defined their role as active participants rather than neutral observers in community. Hear more about the promises and difficulties facing our local media directly from prominent journalists from the area during this active panel discussion.

"Black Media: The Same Facts, a Different Reality," 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Is there a difference between "black" media and "white" media? Keith Murphy says "yes." Explore the differences in news reporting, as Murphy shares his perspective using examples, such as the recent beating death of a black man by black teens in Milwaukee. An African American, Murphy has 17 years of media experience, including television and radio. Currently, he is a radio broadcaster for WMCS-AM in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, Feb. 5
"Media May Be Harmful to Women and Other Thinking Beings," 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Why has the New York Times considered National Security Advisor Rice’s dress size, fashion preferences, and exercise routine newsworthy but never discussed John Ashcroft’s inseam or the length of Trent Lott’s trousers? With wit, insight, and razor-sharp analysis, journalist and media critic Jennifer Pozner exposes how media conglomerates serve corporate agendas, reinforce stereotypes, and limit political debate about women’s and human rights issues. Using multi-media clips and research about media bias and inaccuracy, Pozner reveals how media outlets distort reality.

Thursday, Feb. 6
Media Literacy Workshop: "Turn On, Plug In, Boot Up: Strategies for Responsible Media Use," 4:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Lobby. There has been a steady increase in the violence, profanity, and sex on daily television, in the movies, and on the radio and Internet. What’s more, our children are learning values, attitudes, and behaviors from this media. Parents and educators need useful tools to help children choose and use media in healthy ways. Viterbo professors Jana Dahmen and William Reese will lead a workshop to promote media literacy using the award-winning PBS video, Raising MediaWise Kids, and materials from the National Institute on Media and the Family.

Soup Supper, a free, informal supper, 6-7 p.m., Fine Arts Center Lobby

 "Media and the First Amendment," 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. U.S. citizens have the constitutional right to a "free press." But, what does freedom of the press mean in the U.S. and abroad and what conditions undermine its function? Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics will explore these questions and address the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. media in keeping citizens informed.

In addition, throughout the symposium, a series of video discussions will cover issues ranging from violence and masculinity to diversity and politics. Speakers, including Tom Fox, publisher of the National Catholic Reporter, will visit Viterbo classrooms.

All events are free and open to the public. If you have questions about "Through the Looking Glass: Media, Perception, & Reality," please contact Mary Hassinger, dean, School of Letters and Sciences, at 608-796-3393

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