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WMU conference examines future of newspapers

March 22, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Can an educated society be sustained solely by digitization?

That will be the question and the theme addressed at an all-day conference Saturday, March 27, at Western Michigan University.

The Conference on the Future of Newspapers will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the WMU Fetzer Center. Open to the public, it is designed to spark a dialogue on the future of newspapers in the age of digitalization.

"This conference is probably the first of its kind in the nation," says Dr. Andrew Targowski, WMU professor of business information systems and conference chairman. "We hope it will serve as a model for similar forums at other universities and colleges in other states."

Keynote addresses

  • "Digital Media and News: Reinventing the Newspaper Future," Dr. Richard Gershon, WMU professor of communication.
  • "Saving Paper Papers," Cheryl Kaechele, president of the National Newspaper Association;
  • "Can Democracy Survive in the Google Age?" Dr. Thomas Kostrzewa, WMU political science instructor.
  • "The Future of Reason in the Digital Civilization," Dr. Andrew Targowski, WMU professor of business information systems.
  • Luncheon talk, "Credibility, Incredibility and the Demise of Objectivity, Civility and Wisdom," Cal Samra, editor and publisher of an award-winning humor newsletter (both paper and digital) and former newspaper and Associated Press reporter.

The conference will address these questions: Can paper papers be saved? Should newspapers give themselves away free on the Internet or charge for Internet access to their daily editions? Are we entering a new era of digital journalism? Is there a place for both paper and digital media?

"Newspapers are a national treasure," Samra says. "A paper paper is the glue that holds a community together. Newspapers survived the Great Depression. They survived radio and television. They survived shoppers. But can they survive the Internet?"

The conference will explore ideas aimed at improving editorial and business practices at newspapers and open a dialogue between journalists and technologists. Papers have been submitted for competition, with cash prizes given to the best paper in each of three categories--Faculty, Student and Professional Journalist.

Best papers chairman Dr. Thomas Rienzo, a WMU faculty specialist in business information systems, commented that the conference is a "unique venue to consider the implications of an increasingly digital world." One of the papers offered, for example, is titled "Do Copyrights Help or Hurt in a Digital World?" by Joel E. Bair, an attorney and one of the nation's foremost authorities on copyrights and trademarks.

The conference is sponsored by WMU's Haworth College of Business; Center for Sustainable Business Practices; College of Arts and Sciences; Haenicke Institute for Global Education; and the National Newspaper Association.

For more information or to register, visit wmich.edu/business/newspapers/. Admission is $20 and includes lunch.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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