The Lost Gutenbergs coming to Berry

April 27, 2009

Berry College’s Liberty Tree Week@Berry continues on Wednesday, April 29, with “The First Information Revolution: The Lost Gutenbergs,” a presentation on how a limited series of historically accurate, precise Gutenberg Bible reproductions were made.

Tim Yancey, master bookbinder, will present the 50-pound Bibles in various stages of production and explain how the project came about.

Providing historical context for the first information revolution will be Kathy McKee, professor of communication and former associate provost at Berry College.

After Yancey’s presentation, Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center in both Washington D.C., and in Nashville, will lead a short discussion about religious expression and freedom of information in America today.

The event begins at 6 p.m. in Berry College’s Science Auditorium. Admission is free, and cultural events credit is being offered.

The presentation is one of several events scheduled as part of the Liberty Tree Initiative program.

Yancey is a partner in Bookbinders Workshop, which launched in February 2007 to build the Lost Gutenbergs. He acquired a single set of the reproduction Gutenberg Bible pages by winning it at auction.

Along with partner Michael L. Chrisman, a world-renowned bookbinder and expert in book restoration and conservation, Yancey began the daunting task of researching and procuring the materials needed to restore the biblical texts and make them available to the public. Yancey and Chrisman then set out to investigate the possibility of purchasing and restoring the rest of the “lost” Gutenberg sets – 120 in all – missing since 1961.

In addition to directing the First Amendment Center, Policinski is a veteran journalist whose career has included work in newspapers, radio, television and online operations. He oversees operations and programs of the Center and is co-author of the weekly syndicated newspaper column, “Inside the First Amendment,” and executive producer and host of the national touring multimedia stage production, “Freedom Sings.”

McKee, who has been at Berry College since 1986, was recently appointed editor of Journalism & Communication Monographs by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. McKee also serves on the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal Mass Communication & Society and has reviewed for the Journal of Advertising and Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. She is also co-author of two books, Media Ethics: Cases & Moral Reasoning (Allyn Bacon Longman, 2008) and Applied Public Relations: Cases in Stakeholder Relations (Erlbaum, 2005).

The Liberty Tree Initiative is an informal coalition of educators, journalists, librarians, artists and authors with a shared interest in building awareness of the First Amendment through education and information. It was founded in partnership with the American Society of Newspaper Editors, with help and support from the Knight Foundation, the McCormick Foundation and the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.

Expanded details on Liberty Tree Week@Berry >> Berry PR

Liberty Tree Week@Berry writing contest

April 24, 2009

Liberty Tree Week@Berry Writing Contest: Rebooting America

A call for entries

A sizeable number of Americans are unable to name their basic freedoms, and less than a third can name even the three branches of government. Only about 3% of those surveyed could name “petition” as one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. Less than 20% named religion, press or assembly. Far more can name all of the “American Idol” judges or many if not most of the characters in “The Simpsons.”

Are we amusing ourselves to civic death?

The Liberty Tree Week@Berry essay contest, “Rebooting America,” invites undergraduate students to submit 1,000-word essays on one of three topics for a competition for cash prizes. First place will win $100; second place will take home $50; third place nets $25.

The contest, which is being administered in cooperation with the Honors Program at Berry, invites submissions on four issues or questions:

  • Do news media in America have too much freedom to watchdog government and inform an electorate? Or not enough? Just the right amount? Argue for or against, for example, a strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act, for or against a reporter’s right to protect the confidentiality of an anonymous source, or for or against the impunity of publishing truthful information legally obtained.
  • Seemingly every year, Congress introduces legislation to begin the process of amending the Constitution to explicitly prohibit the burning of the national flag. Argue for or against such legislation, discussing why an individual may or may not burn the national flag as “protected speech” under the First Amendment.
  • Should the clearing a Campus Carrier rack of the “free” newspaper be considered theft? Argue for or against a proposed Georgia law making school newspaper theft a specific criminal offense.
  • Does Berry’s speech code violate the First Amendment to the U.S Constitution? Several court cases nationally in the past 15 years have resulted in the abolishing of university speech codes, in particular hate speech codes. On the other hand, few would endorse hate speech as a responsible exercise of the right to expression. Examine Berry’s speech code and argue for or against its constitutionality.

Submit your entries for judging to Dr. Brian Carroll, electronically to bc AT or snail mail to Box 299. Deadline is noon, Friday, May 1.


An ethical dilemma

April 24, 2009

Wow, it has been far too long since the last posting. This semester has been insane. My latest ‘excuse’ is Liberty Tree Week@Berry, a week of events we’ve planned for Berry here in Communication. It’s swallowed every discretionary moment, and much more. But it will be so worth it.

To our purpose: An ethical dilemma for my class of cross-platform content editors and producers. First, the scenario:

To hyperlink or not to hyperlink, that is the question

You are deciding for the AJC (& Web site), WSB TV (& Web site) or CNN (& Web site). Your audience: AJC – the Southeast; WSB TV – Georgia; CNN – the nation.

What: A new prime minister of Iraq has just been named, a Shiite who had been an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein and had lived in exile before the American invasion of 2003.

Shortly after taking office in April 2009, he is kidnapped, along with five American journalists, by a rival Sunni faction. Several hours later, the kidnappers say they have hanged the prime minister to protest the execution of Hussein. The kidnappers don’t bother with cell phone video; they provide professional-looking video that shows the prime minister dropping through the platform. The video shows his head snapping off and his body, and head, falling to the floor.

The kidnappers have posted the video on their Web site, and American officials have independently confirmed that it shows what it says it does: the decapitation of the Iraqi official. But American officials are asking American news organizations not to link to the video because, they claim, doing so will help the kidnappers achieve their ends.

No American news site has linked to the site yet, but we, the editors at the AJC, are eager to do so. We in the newsroom meet to discuss our coverage. Our key questions: Will we include a link to the hanging video and, therefore, the kidnappers’ Web site, or not? Controversy is sure to follow whatever decision we make, so the second question: How will we explain our decision?

Remember: We are to maximize the truth, minimize harm and serve the public interest. These are our journalistic imperatives. And we are to conceive of ethical decision-making as a process. It’s not about whether you are a good, moral person or not.

So, for Monday, post a few sentences identifying your decision and justifying and explaining it. Nothing too lengthy.

To help you: