Forum centers on news in democracy

By Zach Thomas

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Following a free presentation Sunday of the award-winning 1976 movie "Network," a panel discussion debated the pros and cons of a democratic citizenry dependent on corporate-sponsored television stations for news.

The movie, which intermingled entertainment values with the news, set the tone for a discussion in Gallagher Theatre, prompting the questions: Is television news based on entertainment or reality? In light of the recent Disney-ABC merger, how will conglomerate media ownership affect the end product? Democracy depends upon a free press, but when ratings and profits enter the picture, how will that freedom be affected?

"Like it or not, most people get their information from the news," said James Todd, political science professor and panel coordinator. "I hope they will go home and think about news versus entertainment values."

Panelists included Chief Justice Stanley Feldman of the Arizona Supreme Court, Peggy Johnson of KUAT-TV Channel 6, former Tucson mayor and UA political science professor Tom Volgy and Bud Foster, KOLD-TV Channel 13 news anchor.

Philip Higdon, managing partner of the Tucson branch of Brown & Bain law firm, moderated the discussion.

Topics ranged from the entertainment value of television itself to the effects of time constraints on any television newscast.

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