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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Famed journalist Roberta Baskin speaks at IU-Indy
Posted 12:35 PM by Luke
Roberta Baskin, who has worked as a producer and journalist for "20/20," "48 Hours," "Primetime," the CBS evening news, and other programs, detailed the work of The Center for Public Integrity, in a speech in the Wynne Courtroom this morning. She also expressed her concerns for the state of journalism, meanwhile billing the Center as "journalism utopia" because of its numerous award winning journalists.

Baskin stressed the importance of transparency and disclosure of campaign finance and other matters by state legislatures and Congress. The Center for Public Integrity, where she is a board member, takes the role of organizing and publicizing disclosures from numerous institutions of government at the state and federal level, including electronic versions on its website.

She also noted the importance of journalists and citizen groups in acting as watchdogs over their government, saying that state ethics commissions--even independently operated ones--often are ineffective. Such commissions are often ill-funded, ill-equipped, and/or hesitant to file complaints against legislatures, she reasoned.

Regarding the role and effectiveness of journalism, she said, "More and more, citizens are doing the work that journalists neglect."

"I have a great feeling of despair regarding the state of journalism," continued Baskin, "Newsrooms are becoming blips on the radar for much bigger entities... At 20/20 they watched minute-by-minute ratings and they tracked where eyeballs pointed on the screens, so they could keep people from changing the channel. That's entertainment, not news. News is about providing important information to people."

When I asked her what role bloggers and citizen journalists would play as a watchdog, she responded, "I was terrified of bloggers a year ago. I thought this was a disaster. Well, now I think this is all gonna shake out. I don't care about what they say as long they link back to us [the Center], and we provide fair and accurate information."

She concluded, "This is a very interesting time... People want information."

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