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Panel to discuss whether news media promote irrational fear

Are mainstream news media creating an irrational climate of fear? Does the news reflect your personal experience? Are Americans afraid of the wrong things?

These are just a few of the questions to be addressed at the next Aurora Forum, "American Media and the Culture of Fear," scheduled for 8:15 p.m. July 23 in Kresge Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Moderated by futurist Paul Saffo, the panel, consisting of journalist James Bettinger, sociologist Barry Glassner and Mother Jones publisher Jay Harris, will discuss the credibility of today's reportage.

Bettinger is director of the John S. Knight Fellowships for Professional Journalists at Stanford and a professor (teaching) in the Department of Communication. After graduating from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1969, he held writing and editorial positions at the Riverside Press-Enterprise and later served as a city editor for the San Jose Mercury News. Bettinger also has worked as a writing and editing consultant and speaker for various businesses and organizations, including Knight Ridder and the Society of Professional Journalists. He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley and of numerous journalism organizations.

Glassner is the author of seven books on contemporary social issues and a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California. His recent book, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things (Basic Books, 1999), was named a "Best Book of the Year" by Knight Ridder newspapers and the Los Angeles Times Book Review, which called it "a gutsy exposť of one of the most widespread delusions of our time: misplaced fear." Glassner's articles and commentaries have appeared the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. His research has been published in the American Sociological Review and American Journal of Psychiatry, among other journals of social sciences. He is a former journalist and editor for ABC Radio News.

Harris has served as chief executive officer of the Foundation for National Progress since 1998. He is a member of the Social Venture Network and a founding member of Businesses for Social Responsibility. He previously has served as general manager of Newsweek's Pacific edition, publisher of Travel & Leisure/Asia and director of international special projects for Newsweek International.

Saffo, a director at the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, is a technology forecaster studying the long-term impact of emerging technologies on business and society. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Fortune. In 1997 he was named one of 100 "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum, and in 2000 he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. He holds degrees from Harvard College, Cambridge University and Stanford.

This event is sponsored by Continuing Studies in conjunction with the Stanford Professional Publishing Course.



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