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April 19, 2002

News Council to Conduct Mock Hearing at UW-RF

Staff members of the Minnesota News Council will be on campus at UW-River Falls to conduct a mock hearing April 30 from 9-11 a.m., in Room 127 of the Ames Building, for the Mass Media and Society class taught by journalism Professor Patricia Berg.

The hearing will re-enact an actual case that came before the Council a few years ago, in which a 17-year-old woman, a victim of incest living in a small town in Minnesota, charged that her hometown weekly paper had re-victimized her by publishing the fact that her father had been convicted of repeatedly raping her.

She also said that the paper had sensationalized her suffering by printing details of the crime.

Students in the class will act as Council members. After hearing the complaints and the newspaper's defense, the students will debate the case and make a decision as to whether the complaint is warranted. Following their vote, staff members will reveal what the Council actually decided in the case.

The 24-member Council, consisting of both media professionals and non-media citizens, is one of only two such councils in the United States.

It is a non-profit, non-governmental agency whose mission is to promote fairness and freedom of expression in the news media grounded in responsible reporting and editing. To that end, it encourages the public to become more knowledgeable and demanding consumers of news and to hold the media accountable for stories they produce. It also encourages the media to be open about how they make news decisions.

All members of the UW-RF community are welcome to sit in on the re-enactment and debate. For more information, call Pat Berg in the journalism department at 715/425-3169.

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