Democracy and the Informed Citizen

Investigating the State of the Media

As part of a special partnership created to promote our 2018 programming initiative, "Democracy and the Informed Citizen," SDHC and the South Dakota Newspaper Association will host a series of public forums focusing on public trust and the media. At least 10 South Dakota forums will feature experts on these topics, including Pulitzer Prize-winning authors or their work, current and former journalists, journalism professors and others.

In conjunction with this programming, groups around the state will read and discuss the 2018 One Book South Dakota, "Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism" by Thomas E. Patterson.

"Democracy and the Informed Citizen" is funded as part of a national initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils, according to the Federation.

"In 2016, as questions related to journalism and the media increased throughout the presidential campaign and in other events, the Federation and Pulitzer again collaborated to develop a new opportunity for programs designed to examine what it means to be an informed citizen in a democracy."

'Informing the News'

Anchoring the programming is the 2018 One Book South Dakota, which argues that deeply introspective, or "knowledge-based," reporting is crucial to the future of democracy and public information (read more on adjacent page). The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded $1.7 million to the Federation of State Humanities Councils in June for "Democracy and the Informed Citizen." The Federation, which facilitates
programming for humanities councils around the U.S., invited councils to submit proposals for the program.

"This is a timely and worthwhile program," said Sherry DeBoer, SDHC executive director. "Once again, we thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership."

Keynotes Featured in Programming Initiative

Working with SDNA, South Dakota Public Broadcasting and other academic and media partners, SDHC will produce keynote events featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and journalists who will explain why critical thinking is so important in the 2018 media environment.

"The work that journalists do to provide news and information every day helps citizens make informed decisions and be more engaged in our democracy," said SDNA Executive Director David Bordewyk. "This is an essential role for newspapers and all news media in South Dakota."

Programming will explore "infoliteracy"—the skills needed to determine source quality, to recognize biases that can distort reporting, and to navigate the proliferating media available to consumers. Events kick off
with a lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning executive editor of the Washington Post Martin Baron April 26 at the University of South Dakota. Baron received the 2017 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in The Media.

SDHC will also host journalism and social media experts at the South Dakota Festival of Books in September, where Patterson will give a keynote lecture about his book. Closing events will focus on National Newspaper Week in October and recognition of Native American journalists with special events on Native American

SDHC's "Book Club to Go" will also feature the One Book author and other selections relating to the theme. To ensure civil and productive discussion, SDHC will host a two-day training in facilitating reflective conversations. The Oregon Humanities Council, nationally known for training facilitators, will work with project scholars and coordinators from both North and South Dakota in early June.

Host a Democracy Program in your Community

Want to bring a scholar to your community to discuss the 2018 theme? Click below to browse through our list of scholars who specialize in "Democracy and the Informed Citizen."