We may be a bit biased given the business we’re in, but we believe that journalism is important. Luckily, we’re not the only ones. To celebrate the freedom of the press and honor the crucial work that journalists do every day, the University of Denver and Denver Press Club have dubbed April 27 as “Real News Day.”
“There’s so much fake news out there and we really wanted to focus on rewarding real news,” says Renée Botta, chair for DU’s Department of Media Film and Journalism Studies. Although the name of the event was conceived as a result of three events coinciding on the same day, the organizers wanted to designate a day just for the importance of thoroughly reported news and the role journalism plays in democracy.
Real News Day will feature a series of events meant to inform the public about the newsmaking process, as well as award those who have impacted the field of journalism. “The date represents the challenges traditional journalism faces today,” says Professor Lynn Schofield Clark, director of DU’s Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media. “We wanted to give people the opportunity to understand evidence-based news.”
The day kicks off with a morning panel titled “Front Page News: Voice and the #MeToo Movement” at the Colorado State Capitol. The free event is open to the public and will discuss the importance of the #MeToo movement, how it relates to sexual assault and harassment, personal testimonies of sexual assault and harassment, and the role of journalism in these movements. Seven speakers are on the panel, including Clark; Colorado Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran; Neha Mahajan, director of the Colorado Chapter of 9to5; and several DU professors.
“It’s not just about Harvey Weinstein, but the ideas of how we can make structural change happen,” says Botta, adding that the panel is designed to raise questions and spark dialogue. “We want this to be for everyone.”
April 27 also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Estlow Center’s Anvil of Freedom Award, which Clark says, “recognizes journalism as a catalyst for democracy.” This year, the award will be presented to Kimberly Kindy, an investigative reporter for the Washington Post. “Kimberly Kindy has been at the forefront of reporting on sexual harassment issues at the Capitol,” says Clark. Kindy will deliver the keynote address at the Estlow Center Anvil of Freedom Award Luncheon—the second event on the Real News Day roster—on Friday afternoon at the Cable Center, in addition to speaking on the morning panel at the State Capitol.
Real News Day will conclude with the Damon Runyon Award Dinner on Friday evening, hosted by the Denver Press Club. The award, named for legendary writer, Damon Runyon, will be presented to Martin Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post. Former Denver Press Club president John Ensslin created this award in 1994 for journalists who exemplify straightforward communication, “just like Damon Runyon did years ago,” Ensslin says.
This first-of-its-kind event is an effort by the DU’s Department of Media Film and Journalism Studies and the Denver Press Club to focus on the credibility in today’s journalism and praising those who are committed to delivering evidence-based journalism.
Baron, who is portrayed in the critically-acclaimed film, Spotlight, is known for leading the Boston Globe‘s investigative team in the early 2000s that uncovered the sexual abuse scandal within Boston’s Catholic parishes that took place for decades. The film chronicled the Globe’s efforts to explore a world-wide crises within the Catholic Church. The effort made by Baron is what Real News Day is all about—the importance of credible journalism and exposing the truth.
If you go: Real News Day takes place on Friday, April 27. Registration for all three events is required. The morning panel, beginning at 7:30 a.m., and the luncheon are free. Tickets for the Damon Runyon Award Dinner are sold out.