Journalist Jerry Roberts, a noted First Amendment defender, will speak at Whitman College on Sunday, Oct. 5.

 Roberts, the first speaker in the newly created Whitman Pioneer Medica Visiting Journalist Series, will speak about “The First Amendment and the News Media Revolution” at 7 p.m. in Maxey Auditorium. The lecture is free and is open to the Whitman and Walla Walla communities.

 A Harvard graduate and an experienced journalist who has produced and presided over award-winning work at positions including managing editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and executive editor at the Santa Barbara News-Press. Roberts is well-known for his journalistic integrity and recently received PEN USA’s 2007 First Amendment Award for exceptional courage in defending freedom of expression. He has received other awards for journalistic ethics, including the National Ethics in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Payne Award for Ethics from the University of Oregon journalism school.

 Robert’s reputation as a defender of journalistic ethics stems from a 2006 conflict at the Santa Barbara News-Press. Socialite Wendy McCaw bought the newspaper and attempted to choose its content in a manner that news editors and reporters felt unduly compromised the neutrality and credibility of the paper. Roberts was one of the first of five editors to resign in protest. The controversy has continued, with the added element of a $25 million lawsuit between Roberts and McCaw.

 The News-Press controversy has drawn national and international attention, particularly on issues of individual ownership of news outlets by people without journalists' credentials, the role of daily newspapers in contemporary communities, the modern role of unions, and the limits of corporate legal restrictions on reporters and other employees, competing news outlets and community members.

 In 2008 filmmaker Sam Tyler released the documentary “Citizen McCaw,” which spotlighted the News-Press controversy. At its premiere in Santa Barbara, the 85-minute film drew 2,200 viewers.

 Roberts is the author of “Never Let them See You Cry,” a biography of California Senator Dianne Feinstein. He is the publications director and student mentor for the Daily Nexus, the independent student newspaper of the University of California, Santa Barbara.


CONTACT: Kim Sommers, Editor-in-Chief, Whitman Pioneer
Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, 527-5156