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Pulitzer winner to give Kegley Lecture at CSUB
April 29, 2005
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist will explore issues raised by news-coverage bias and the nation’s apparent cultural and moral divide during the 19th annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture at California State University, Bakersfield.

Tim Rutten, who writes the “Regarding Media” column for the Los Angeles Times, will address the issues in his talk titled, “Is there Life after Fox? American Journalism Tries to Speak to a Polarized Audience.” The lecture is slated for Wednesday, May 11, at 7 p.m. in the CSUB Student Union Multi-Purpose Room.

Christopher Meyers, CSUB philosophy professor and director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics, said, “Fox News is emblematic of the growing political and moral divide in the United States, in that it appears to have decided to speak to one side only. It doesn’t care whether it’s perceived as biased by the left, so long as it has a sufficiently loyal following on the right. This is a huge break from most mainstream news outlets, who have always cared about wide audience acceptance. Given this divide, and given Fox’s and talk radio’s explicit pandering to the right, what remains for traditional mainstream news? Should they give up any attempt at objectivity or neutrality and also simply pander to the left?”

Rutten along with other media watchdogs, worry this may already be happening, or at least that viewers and readers perceive that it is. Rutten writes in a July 2004 Times article, “according to a recent survey by the independent Pew Center, more than half of all Fox News viewers now describe themselves as political conservatives. … Meanwhile, 50 percent of CNN’s viewers now call themselves liberals or independents. Among the Republicans polled in Pew’s, 3,000 person national sample, Fox is the most trusted source of news. Democrats most trust CNN.

“The cable news audience, in other words, is increasingly dividing itself along partisan lines, seeking not information but confirmation.

“Popular beliefs about credibility of other news organizations also divide increasingly along partisan lines. Pew found that only half as many Republicans as Democrats view ABC, CBS and NBC news as credible.”

In addition to his column, Rutten also serves as associate features editor and senior writer. He joined the paper in 1972 and, since then, has held such posts as opinion editor, chief editorial writer, deputy national editor, news analyst and city/county bureau chief. In the latter capacity he supervised the Times’ groundbreaking coverage of the Rampart police scandal. Over the past 15 years, Rutten has been a member of three Times teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news coverage. His criticism and journalism also have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the Economist and the London Review of Books. He is co-author with the late Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. of The New York Times best-selling book, "Journey to Justice."

The Kegley Institute strives to discuss ethical issues relating to current events. Past speakers have included Cornel West, talking about U.S. race relations, Peter Singer, on whether we need to rethink our traditional notions of life and death and former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.

For additional information on this free event please call (661) 665-6303.



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