The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Event sparks discussion about democracy, journalism

A new generation of future journalists and reporters attended the Roger V. Wetherington Memorial Colloquium on Journalism and Democracy on Sept. 23 to discuss journalism’s role in democracy.

The event was held in honor of Wetherington, former Journalism Department chair, who died over the summer.

The colloquium was moderated by Mark J. Prendergast, associate journalism professor in the College of Professional Studies and ombudsman of the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

The featured speakers included Arthur Browne, editor of the The New York Daily News and graduate of St. John’s School of Law; Susan Edgerley, assistant managing editor of The New York Times; and Diane Heith, associate government and politics professor in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Panelists discussed the emergence of non-print alternative sources for news, the use of journalism to ease social and political tensions, freedom of press in both western and non-western societies, and the interdependence of journalism and democracy. Prendergast believed Wetherington would have been honored by the event.

“I think Roger would have enjoyed this because the goal was to have three aspects of his loves, which were St. John’s, Daily News and the New York Times,” he said. “To have three distinguished representatives of that, to me, was very gratifying.”

Students said they found the event to be worthwhile. “I thought it was very informative,” said Zachery Broughton, a student.

“The panelists were very wise in their respective crafts and it inspired me further to pursue my career as a journalist.”

Edgerley ended with a word of advice for those seeking employment in the media reporting field.

“In order to break into journalism and get that job at The Times or Daily News you have to be able to do it all,” she said. “Be an animal about what you do.”

Prendergast said he hopes to hold a similar event each year and distribute a student award in honor of the late professor, starting next semester.

“I would have to think he would probably be uncomfortable with the colloquium and the award but I know deep down inside, he would have been proud,” he said.

Additional reporting by Everton Bailey

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