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Next Walden Forum Addresses 'Truth in Journalism: Whose Facts, Whose Reality?'

The next Walden Forum will take place Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at First Parish in Wayland.

The information below was submitted as a press release.

Join us for a discussion with Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University. Kennedy will speak at the Walden Forum on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. He teaches multimedia reporting, First Amendment law and other journalism courses.

The Walden Forum is held at the First Parish Meeting House, at the intersection of Routes 20 and 27 in Wayland, Mass.

The 2012 presidential campaign was marked – or marred – by an utter failure to find common ground. From climate change to polling analysis, from the rise of fact-checking to the decline of facts, the civic discourse was polluted by ideology and partisanship at the expense of rational analysis.

The media deserve a good deal of the blame. We have come a long way from the 1960s, when Walter Cronkite reassuringly (if inaccurately) concluded his newscast with “And that’s the way it is,” and news organizations such as the New York Times, Time and Newsweek, and the Associated Press were considered beyond reproach. Today, thanks to the Internet and cable television, we have more choices and more access to high-quality journalism than ever before. The tendency, though, is to cocoon with our own kind. Conservatives flock to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and websites such as Breitbart.com and the Daily Caller. Liberals choose MSNBC, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Kos.

Why do so many of us prefer spin over substance? Will the jolt of reality provided by the election results begin a return to empiricism? Or will Red America and Blue America continue to go their separate ways?

Kennedy is an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a well-known media analyst. He is a panelist on Beat the Press, a weekly program on WGBH-TV (Channel 2) that won the National Press Club’s 2012 Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism. Kennedy writes regularly on media and political issues for the Huffington Post and the Nieman Journalism Lab. He also has written for numerous other publications and websites, including the Guardian, Nieman Reports, CommonWealth Magazine, Bookforum, PBS MediaShift, the Boston Globe, and Slate. His blog, Media Nation, is online at www.dankennedy.net.

From 1994 to 2005 Kennedy was the media columnist for the Boston Phoenix, for whom he remains a contributor, winning national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and the National Press Club. From 1979 to 1989 he was a staff reporter and editor for the Daily Times Chronicle of Woburn. He is a 1979 graduate of Northeastern University and earned a master of liberal arts degree in American history from Boston University in 1984.

Kennedy is the author of two books – "Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter’s Eyes" (Rodale, 2003) and "The Wired City: Re-imagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age," which will be published by University of Massachusetts Press in 2013.

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