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Monday, September 22, 2014

Professor to Speak on Struggles of Free Press

Documentary producer, blogger and author Greg Mitchell, ’70, will speak on “The Struggle for a Free Press in America: From JFK to Edward Snowden” on Tuesday, Sept. 30, in Dresser Auditorium of the Murphy Professional building.

The event begins at 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Mitchell is the Lenna Visiting Professor for the fall 2014 semester.

During his 44-year career, Mitchell has edited leading magazines such as the Nuclear Times, Editor & Publisher, Crawdaddy, Feature and Politicks & Other Human Interests.

He has authored more than a dozen books, including “The Campaign of the Century,” which received the Goldsmith Book Prize and was a top-five finalist for Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The 1992 book was about the birth of modern media politics and Upton Sinclair’s race for governor of California in 1934.

“Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady” was a New York Times Notable Book. “So Wrong for So Long” featured a preface by Bruce Springsteen, and film rights to his memoir “Joy in Mudville” were optioned by Tom Hanks. Recently, he completed two e-books, “Hollywood Bomb” and “Vonnegut and Me.”

Mitchell has served as chief adviser for applauded documentaries such as “Original Child Bomb” and a theatrical version of “The Campaign of the Century.” He co-produced the widely hailed “Following the Ninth,” on Beethoven’s final symphony, in 2013. The documentary was featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and Bill Moyers’ PBS show.

St. Bonaventure professor Richard Lee said he nominated Mitchell because he embodies an ideal journalist.

“If you look at Greg Mitchell's career, he’s had a very diverse career that really touches on many of the disciplines we offer at St. Bonaventure — from writing and strategic communication to political science and nonviolence,” Lee said.

Recently, Mitchell has been a blogger and daily writer for The Nation and its website. He is also a frequent blogger for The Huffington Post and maintains his personal blog, Pressing Issues. His Twitter handle, with more than 27,000 followers, is @GregMitch.

“If you follow Mitchell’s blog and his Twitter feed, he’s always up on current events,” said Lee. “I don’t know how he tweets as frequently as he does on the variety of topics that he does. As stories are evolving, he’s always right on top of things. That’s a strength, and it’s one of the items I want to learn more about.”

Mitchell will discuss the challenges facing media today.

“It’s an important subject, especially today in this wild world of the Web and new crackdowns on sourcing, whistleblowing and ‘net neutrality,’” Mitchell said. “And it may be more dangerous because younger people perhaps take it for granted, not realizing that all this wonderful news that appears online has to come from somewhere—and has to be credible, not just gossip or speculation.”

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts will screen Mitchell’s co-produced documentary “Following the Ninth” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1. This event is also open to the public.

In addition, Mitchell will be lecturing in several journalism and strategic communications classes. He will have free time to interact with students individually or in small groups.

“It is a terrific chance to return to campus and try to pass along at least some of what I've learned in my 44-year career in daily newspapers, national magazines and writing more than a dozen books — plus hundreds of appearances on TV, radio and creating documentary films,” Mitchell said. “So that span kind of covers most of the aspects of a modern ‘mass communication.’”

The Lenna Endowed Visiting Professorship, established in 1990, is funded through gifts from the late Betty S. Lenna Fairbank and Reginald A. Lenna of Jamestown. It is designed to bring scholars of stature in their field to St. Bonaventure University and Jamestown Community College for public lectures.

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