Jan 25, 2017

Citizens' Diverse Career Paths Showcased in Interviews
Historian Dr. Betty Livingston  Adams  and Summit Public Library Director Susan Permahos  are featured  in  Episode 3 of Civics Mix a series of half-hour programs about citizens' varied life choices. The interviews are airing in January and February on HomeTowne TV (Verizon 33, Comcast 36). Dr. Adams was recently honored in Summit on MLK Day (Jan. 16) with a "Keeper of the Dream" award. Her 2016 book, "Black Women's Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb" documents the transformative work of Violet Johnson and Florence Randolph, influential church builders and social action leaders in Summit in the early decades of the 20th century.  
Susan Permahos directed the Springfield Public Library for 20 years prior to her appointment in Summit in 2013. Although she wasn't a passionate lover of books as a child, a college internship with the NY Public Library system led to a Masters Degree in Library Science from Rutgers University, and a life-long passion for library service, management, and connecting people to information.
The 14-minute interviews with Dr. Betty Adams and Susan Permahos air this evening (Jan 25) and next Wednesday (Feb 1) at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm; and Saturdays (Jan 28, Feb 4) at 6:30 pm. J ournalist Tamika Cody and CivicStory Founder & Creative Director Susan Haig co-moderate. HomeTowne TV is Channel 33/36 in the Summit region.

Click here  to view interviews.  [Civics Mix is partially funded by a grant from the Summit Area Public Foundation.]  

Who's Mediating?  News Needs a Civic Sensibility 
The contentious tone of public discourse in the months leading up to the November U.S. presidential election has been widely acknowledged, as well as the public's desire for more 'news' and less 'opinion.' But another troubling aspect of news has been the tendency to personalize news stories -- characterizing presidents, for example, as lone actors rather than representatives of a citizenry of 320 million people. 

Headlines in today's New York Times display this personalizing tendency: "Trump to Authorize Wall And Curtail Immigration"; and "President Breathes Life Into Pipelines Thwarted Under Obama." Eleven paragraphs later (on an inside page), the article discloses that "Congress would need to approve any new funding necessary to build the wall..."

Civics-oriented journalism would contextualize this news story in terms that clarify democratic processes, which are constitutionally designed to limit the power of any one branch of government. A reference in paragraph 2 to the required Congressional approval, for example, would have presented a more accurate, realistic view of our constitutional checks and balances, and would give the entire article a more reasonable tone.

While it's absolutely critical for the public to be warned of potential abuses of power, it's even more important to ensure that daily news empowers citizens with a rational understanding of the complex processes of representative government. (These processes often involve extensive consultation, analysis, debate and consensus.) 

We look forward to the news media playing a more active role in this vital aspect of life-long public education. 

This item is published as a blogpost on civicstory.org
President Encourages Next Generation
Yes, Obama's Farewell address is old news, but we'd like to include his shout-out to younger Americans;  we at CivicStory hope that they don't delay in stepping up to positions of leadership!

Let me tell you, this generation coming up - unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic - I've seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America's hallmark, that it's not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You'll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands. 

See you in 2 weeks.
Susan Haig, Founder & Creative Director,
and the CivicStory Team

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