University of Colorado Boulder journalism professor Michael Tracey, a co-star in the April 10 Message column about CU's Campus Press publication and its fight for independence, wouldn't be many people's first choice to lead a discussion about ethics. He is, you'll recall, the man behind several objectivity-free documentaries about the murder of Boulder's JonBenét Ramsey, as well as the fellow largely responsible for foisting John Mark Karr on an unsuspecting public; Westword staffer Alan Prendergast's fine October 2006 feature tells the tale. Nevertheless, Tracey will indeed be hosting such an event as part of a project known as the "Year of Thinking Ethically."
Here's the rundown as penned by Paul Voakes, dean of CU's journalism department, as it appeared in a March edition of "Friday Notz," an internal newsletter regularly distributed to faculty and staff:
The Year of Thinking Ethically: Professor Michael Tracey (with the able assistance of doc student Maggie Red) is hard at work organizing the first symposium in our Year of Thinking Ethically, set for April 23 in Old Main. Michael is inviting a small group of Colorado media professionals to join invited faculty members and students for a five-hour conversation about, well, just a few not-so-trivial matters, to wit: "1) examine the issues that confront contemporary news media, economically, organizationally, technologically, politically, philosophically; 2) consider what measures need to be, and can be, taken to maintain and nurture the role of the news media within a democratic, as well as a commercial, culture." We plan to follow up the first symposium with a second, of a similar format, involving national figures (media managers and academics), and a third that focuses on coverage of a particular recent story. If you're interested in helping out, I'm sure Maggie and Michael would welcome a hand or two.
Via e-mail, Voakes provides more details. "Michael's symposium is meant to be prolonged conversation that we will videotape -- for transcription and distribution, hopefully of the words and video both," he writes. "We hope to do at least one more of these, next fall. We haven't publicized it at all. There was no intention to have a public audience in the room -- just broad distribution later."
No telling what the resultant video will be named. However, the pairing of Michael Tracey and ethics suggests one possible title: The Odd Couple. -- Michael Roberts