Express Sessions Returns with Focus on Community Journalism

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The issue-based Express Sessions series will return to the American Hotel on Friday, January 18, and address the importance of community journalism and how the work of local media companies compares to the national dialogue on the ever-changing role of media.

The event has sold out and coverage will be provided in the January 24 edition of The Sag Harbor Express, which introduced the sessions in 2018 as a way to bring community leaders and experts in their fields to a casual setting to interact with members of the community. This week’s session will include several local journalists, as well as newspaper professionals who work on regional and national levels.

Jim Rutenberg, a media columnist with The New York Times and a writer for The New York Times Magazine,will attend the session, as will Michelle Rea, the chief executive officer of the New York Press Association, the trade group that represents roughly 800 newspapers across the state.

Andrew Olsen, publisher of the Times-Review Media Group, which includes The Suffolk Times, The Shelter Island Reporter and the Riverhead News-Review, will attend as a panelist, as will Joseph Shaw, the executive editor of the Press News Group, which includes The Southampton Press, The East Hampton Press and the website, 27east.com. Vera Chinese, a reporter with Newsdaywill join the panel along with Kathryn G. Menu, the editor and co-publisher of The Sag Harbor Express.

“Journalism and media companies have been under attack at the national level, and coupled with the changing dynamics of the newspaper business, we thought this was an appropriate way to begin our Express Sessions series for 2019,” said Sag Harbor Express co-publisher Gavin Menu, who moderates the sessions along with Bryan Boyhan, the former publisher and editor of The Express, who currently serves as a consultant and designer for the paper. “We also want to engage members of the community about how they view the work we are doing, while also hearing about what’s important to them in terms of local issues and how they’re being presented, or not presented, in the news.”

Mr. Rutenberg was part of a group of journalists that won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the “Me Too” movement that provided a voice to sexual harassment victims. He writes for The Timeson issues relating to the media, and will provide an important perspective on the news business in general. “As newspapers fall, leaving important local issues uncovered, the social media companies contributing to their deaths are helping to fill the content void with unverified, and at worst patently false information,” he wrote in a recent column. “Solutions are not coming fast, though smart people are working on it.”

One of those people is Ms. Rea, who is chairwoman of a national newspaper relevance study working to redefine and defend the impact of community news on a national scale. As a newspaper publisher, Mr. Olsen will provide an important business perspective that effects the work being conducted by the remaining panelists who work on the editorial side of their respective newspapers.

The next Express Sessions will be on February 22 and will revisit the issue of affordable housing on the East End. Tickets are $30, include lunch, and are available online at ExpressSessionsFebruary2019.eventbrite.com.

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