The Save Journalism on June 21 will feature (pictured left to right) KNKX News Director Florangela Davila, Jelani Cobb, Dean of Journalism at Columbia, Michael McPhearson, executive director of South Seattle Emerald, and Frank Blethen, publisher of The Seattle Times. (Town Hall Seattle)

If journalism is the lifeblood of our democracy, then why does it feel like its chronically on life support?

The journalism industry is in rough shape and continues to shed jobs and coverage areas, but nonetheless quality reporting remains the bedrock of our democracy. How to ensure the industry survives and even thrives is a question many journalism have pondered, locally and nationwide. A Town Hall Seattle event titled “Saving Journalism, Saving Our Democracy” on Wednesday June 21 at the Wyncote NW Forum will seek to tackle that question.

Local news outlets led by South Seattle Emerald and Real Change News sponsored the event, which will feature KNKX News Director Florangela Davila, South Seattle Emerald Executive Director Michael McPhearson, Jelani Cobb, who is Dean of Journalism at Columbia University, and Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen. The discussion, which starts at 7:30pm, will be moderated by Deloris Irwin of the League of Women Voters.

News outlets are struggling, downsizing, and shutting down. “Locally, we’ve witnessed the closures of the Seattle Chinese PostThe Seattle Post-IntelligencerThe Seattle Weekly, and the Seattle Globalist,” sponsors note. Recently, Crosscut announced it was laying off five journalists — all of them women, which led the Crosscut Union to protest and criticize the move.

“While many bemoan the decline of journalism, there are also solutions being explored for how to ensure that every community both locally and nationally is afforded journalism that is factual, accurate, and accessible,” the event listing notes, promising to dive into those solutions.

The Urbanist has sought to fill a journalistic niche to help fill the void created by a declining industry, but a vibrant sector will take a robust community of journalistic organizations and an overall system that is better geared for success and supporting good deep-diving work relevant to a wide range of communities. Check out the event on Wednesday to explore how we can achieve that vision.

  • What: Saving Journalism, Saving Our Democracy
  • When: 7:30pm Wednesday, June 21
  • Who: Florangela Davila, Jelani Cobb, Michael McPhearson, and Frank Blethen
  • Where: The Wyncote NW Forum, 1119 8th Ave (Entrance off Seneca St.)
  • Cost: Get tickets ($5 – $20 Sliding Scale) here

For more on the panel and moderator, check out the biographies Town Hall Seattle has provided:

Florangela Davila has been a journalist since 1992. For 14 years she worked at The Seattle Times, covering race and immigration. She also served as managing editor and news host at KCTS 9. The child of immigrants from Colombia and Peru, she was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley and Columbia University. She’s earned numerous individual and team journalism honors in print, online and broadcast, most recently three regional Murrow awards for KNKX.

Jelani Cobb is the Dean of Journalism at Columbia University. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2015. He received a Peabody Award for his 2020 PBS Frontline film Whose Vote Counts? and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary in 2018. He has also been a political analyst for MSNBC since 2019.

Michael McPhearson is the executive director of the South Seattle Emerald. He is the former executive director of Veterans For Peace. As co-coordinator of the Ferguson/St. Louis Don’t Shoot Coalition and leading a delegation to support the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, he recognizes the critical role of community media for social change. He has testified before Congress and is currently a board member of the ACLU of Washington.

Frank Blethen is the publisher of The Seattle Times and the great-grandson of the 126-year-old company’s founder.

Delores Irwin is co-chair of the League of Women Voters of Washington committee that produced the 2022 study “The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy.” She graduated from Cal State University, Fullerton, with a BA in Communications/Journalism, and was a newspaper reporter for several years at Southern California newspapers, including the Orange County Register. She is a former public information officer for a city and also worked for a public hospital and a community college district, all in Southern California. She is the former League president in Kittitas County. 

Article Author
Publisher | Website

Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.