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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Journalism Conference Marks New Era

For the Center for Journalism Ethics (CJE), the fifth annual ethics conference on April 5– is it the fifth already? — marks the end of its formative years.

It is the last conference for me.

I am leaving UW-Madison. On July 1, I begin a new era for myself, as director of the Turnbull Center in Portland, part of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. My leaving marks the end of the CJE’s early years. It also signals the beginning of an exciting era under a new leader.

I have had the honor, and pleasure, to found the CJE and to develop the center in its crucial first years of existence, from 2008 onward. Despite the nation’s economic meltdown, we never lost faith that the center would survive the tough times.

It has done more than ‘survive.’ It is now a nationally known and respected center with substantial contributions to the development of journalism ethics.

At our conferences, we have had incredible conversations, from reporting elections and the impact of a partisan press to the future of journalism in a digital media world. The fifth conference is no different. We tackle the independence of journalists in new media environments.

A new center director will be selected soon. Whomever it is, he or she will take the center to a new level of achievement and national (and international) reknown. In the years ahead, I know I will look back at this legacy called the Center for Journalism Ethics. I will smile at how the center has continued to grow through the efforts of so many different people — journalists, scholars, foundations, corporations, alumni, students.

I owe so much to so many people that I won’t even try to name them here. I will thank them personally. They know who they are.

Change is a strange bittersweet affair. One feels energized as a new path opens up; yet, one is also regretful that some paths close behind you. I leave the center where I hoped it would be, back in 2008: economically secure, noted, and known for its excellence in staging seminal events. Now, it is time for fresh ideas and new growth.

The center must continue with its mission.

Our democracy needs the combined efforts of responsible journalists, concerned citizens, and creative media institutions in the maintainence of public journalism amid a media revolution.

Without such journalism, citizens only fool themselves when they claim they are informed and self-governing.