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UVM, public discourse and Habermas

February 24, 2017

One of the things I love about advising student media at the University of Vermont—and about being part of the wider media world—is the opportunity to speak to some of the most fascinating experts in the field.

I recently called upon some of these media experts to help me with a podcast experiment in which I sought to examine some of the most important—and troubling—changes to public discourse in the modern electronic era.

The piece has an academic slant—as projects at universities sometimes do—in that it concerns concepts about public discourse explored by German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, who in the 1960s wrote about the emergence of a “public sphere,” where commoners like you and me could come together to debate the issues of the day and, in the process, advance the cause of democracy.

I’m posting the podcast to the UVM media blog because one major part of the podcast involves an extended interview with Natalie DiBlasio, a 2012 editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic and, today, head of social media at WIRED. We also hear from UVM sociology professor Tom Streeter and Anne Galloway, founder and publisher of the Vermont investigative news source VTDigger.org, so the Vermont media connection is strong.

I invite you to listen to the whole thing or—if you’re not actually on a road trip in your car—encourage you to dive in to listen to the sources who you’re most eager to hear. The minute-by-minute breakdown below can help you do that.

Thanks, in advance, for listening.


Your chapter guide:

  • 8:24 — Tom Streeter, UVM sociology professor
  • 12:52 — Natalie DiBlasio, head of social media at WIRED and former editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic
  • 35:50 — David Niose, an activist who has served as president of two Washington-based national organizations, the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America
  • 48:14 —Pam Platt, lifelong journalist and, until recently, editorial director at The Louisville Courier-Journal
  • 1:10:19 — Anne Galloway, founder and publisher of investigative journalism source VTDigger.org
  • 1:17:52 — A quick callback from Tom Streeter
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