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Telling the Truth in a Post-truth World
A multi-event symposium of topics crucial to an open democratic society.

Telling the Truth In a time when “fake news” and “post-truth” have become common phrases, the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany is taking a look at what it really means to tell the truth through a series of events, including movies and discussions, culminating in a two-day seminar on journalism, media and democracy.

The seminar, “Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World,” is set for Oct. 13 and 15 in Page Hall on the Downtown Campus (see map). It will feature 30 prominent journalists, editors, nonfiction authors, historians and First Amendment scholars engaging in in-depth panel discussions about “matters that are under attack and that are central to a free and open and functioning democratic society,” said Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl.

Bob Schieffer Ashleigh Banfield Kurt Andersen Juan Gonzalez
Amy Goodman Maria Hinojosa Glenn Thrush Kelley Vlahos

“My mentor and Writers Institute founder William Kennedy and I had been talking about organizing this symposium since the early days of the presidential campaign, when the terms 'fake news' and 'alternative facts' began to gain traction,” Grondahl said. The upcoming seminar recalls the Writers Institute’s 1991 event, “Telling the Truth: A Symposium on the Craft of Nonfiction,” which brought in 35 high-profile nonfiction writers to take a deep dive into the practical and ethical problems of writing nonfiction.

“We felt it was imperative to convene a symposium in 2017 for a deep examination into what constitutes truth in an era that has been dubbed 'post-truth' — selected the international word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2016,” Grondahl said.

Supporting events begin with the movie Harvest of Empire, based on the book by award-winning journalist Juan González.

On Oct. 6, another journalism-related film will be screened: All the President’s Men, based on The Washington Post’s work uncovering the Watergate break-in.

Harvest of EmpireSeptember 22 (Friday): HARVEST OF EMPIRE
Film screening — 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Peter Getzels and Eduardo López (United States, 2012, 90 minutes, color)
Featuring Junot Diaz, Luis Enrique, Juan González
Based on the nonfiction book of the same name by award-winning journalist Juan González, this powerful documentary examines how the influx of immigrants from Latin American countries to the United States has been linked to American foreign policy. González will participate on the panel “Race, Class, and the Future of Democracy” on Saturday October 14.

All the President's MenOctober 6 (Friday): ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN
Film screening and discussion with Harry Rosenfeld, Albany Times Union editor-at-large, and former Metro Editor at The Washington Post in charge of the daily coverage of the Watergate expose — 7:00 p.m. [note early start time], Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Alan J. Pakula (United States, 1976, 138 minutes, color)
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden
In this classic political thriller based on true events, The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. The film received four Oscars, including Best Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.
Cosponsored by UAlbany School of Criminal Justice’s Crime, History and Public Memory Film Series

Kurt Andersen
Photo: Thomas Hart Shelby

October 12 (Thursday): Kurt Andersen, award-winning author and journalist, and radio host
Conversation with WAMC’s Joe Donahue — 7:00 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

Kurt Andersen is a writer, editor, critic, and the host of WNYC’s Peabody-winning public radio program Studio 360. Cofounder of Spy magazine, he contributes to Vanity Fair and The New York Times, and was a cultural columnist for Time and The New Yorker. Andersen is also the coauthor, with Saturday Night Live’s Alec Baldwin, of You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody). Andersen will discuss his new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (2017), which examines the current phenomenon of “fake news” and the blurred lines between reality and illusion in the culture and politics of 21st century America from a historical perspective.
$30 admission charge, which includes a copy of Fantasyland (UAlbany students free with valid ID). Contact The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza (518-489-4761) for advance tickets/book, or purchase at the door. Part of the book sale proceeds will fund NYS Writers Institute programming.

October 13 and 14, Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, UAlbany Downtown Campus

All events listed below free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

October 13 (Friday): 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Panel

Media in the Age of New Technology: Fake News, Information Overload, & Media Literacy

Moderator: Bob Schieffer, moderator of three presidential debates, former anchor of CBS Evening News and Face the Nation, and author of Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News (2017)
Panelists: Franklin Foer, staff writer of The Atlantic and former editor of The New Republic, and author of World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech (2017)
David Goodman, contributor to Mother Jones magazine and co-author with his sister Amy Goodman of the book Democracy Now! Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America (2016)
Maria Hinojosa, trailblazing journalist and talk show host, anchor and executive producer of Latino USA and founder of the Futuro Media Group, dedicated to promoting diversity in American media
Tim Wu, professor at Columbia Law School, originator of “net neutrality” and author of Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (2010), and The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads (2016)

8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Panel

Presidents and the Press: Trump, Nixon & More
Moderator: Bob Schieffer,
moderator of three presidential debates and former anchor of CBS Evening News and Face the Nation
Panelists: Douglas Brinkley, CNN Presidential historian and biographer of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford
Amy Goodman, investigative reporter, host and producer of the award-winning news program, Democracy Now! that airs on over 1,400 public television and radio stations worldwide
Harry Rosenfeld, Times Union editor-at-large, and former Metro Editor at The Washington Post who oversaw the paper’s coverage of Watergate
Glenn Thrush, White House correspondent for the New York Times

October 14 (Saturday): 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Panel

Dirty Deeds: Election Mischief, Cybercrimes & Civil Liberties

Moderator: Victor Asal
, UAlbany faculty expert in terrorism and homeland security and Chair, Department of Public Administration
Panelists: Russell Banks, bestselling novelist, past President of the International Parliament of Writers, and founder and President of Cities of Refuge North America
David Daley, Digital Media Fellow at the University of Georgia, and author of Ratf**ed: The True Story Behind the Secret Plans to Steal America’s Democracy (2016)
James Steiner, ex-CIA official and Program Coordinator for Homeland Security, Cyber Security and Emergency Management at UAlbany’s Rockefeller College
Kelley Vlahos, Managing Editor of The American Conservative, longtime political writer for, and journalist specializing in national security, war policy, and civil liberties

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Panel

Race, Class, and the Future of Democracy

Moderator: Gilbert King
, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Devil in the Grove (2012)
Panelists: Carol Anderson, professor of African-American History at Emory University and author of the national bestseller, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (2016)
José Cruz, Director of UAlbany’s Center for Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies, and author of Puerto Rican Identity, Political Development, and Democracy in New York, 1960-1990 (2017)
Juan González, investigative reporter, co-host of Democracy Now! and author of Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America (2000), and Reclaiming Gotham (2017)
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, journalist, MacArthur Fellow, and author of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx (2003)

2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Panel

The First Amendment & Free Speech Under Attack

Moderator: Ashleigh Banfield
, award-winning journalist and TV personality, host of Primetime Justice on HLN and former anchor of CNN’S Legal View
Panelists: Floyd Abrams, the nation’s pre-eminent First Amendment attorney, senior counsel at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, and author of The Soul of the First Amendment (2017)
Anthony Paul Farley, James Campbell Matthews Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Albany Law School, where he teaches Advanced Constitutional Law
Kristina Findikyan, senior counsel at Hearst, one of the nation’s largest media companies, where she specializes in First Amendment and libel law
Richard Honen, corporate attorney in charge of the Albany office of Phillips Lytle LLP and conservative commentator on WAMC’s The Roundtable

7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Panel

The End of Newspapers?

Moderator: Rex Smith
, editor of the Albany Times Union and host of “The Media Project” on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio
Panelists: Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times and director of The Marshall Project, an investigative journalism project on criminal justice issues
Pamela Newkirk,
journalist and professor of journalism at NYU, and author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media (2000)
Richard Tofel
, founding general manager and current president of Pro Publica -- the independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest -- and former assistant publisher of The Wall Street Journal
Jim Rich, Executive Editor of HUFFPOST (The Huffington Post), and former Editor-in-Chief at the NY Daily News.

8:45 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Book signing and public reception

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