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February 14, 2005

Media Experts to Analyze Effects of Public Relations on Society

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Media experts will discuss whether the public relations industry helps or hinders political discourse in the United States at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, in Graham Auditorium in Hillyer Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Judith Milestone, former senior vice president at CNN and a member of the Smith Class of 1966, and Sut Jhally, founder of the Media Education Foundation and professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will lead the discussion, titled “Spin Room: More Light or More Fog?”

Among the issues they will plumb: Are the powerful communication techniques of the public relations industry essential to the proper functioning of a vast, diverse democracy such as our own or do public relations techniques hinder effective, reasoned debate and its ultimate aim — the building of public consensus?

Milestone retired as senior vice president of CNN in 2001 and teaches occasionally at Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology. An active member of the Council on Foreign Relations, International Women’s Forum and International Women’s Media Foundation, Milestone also served in 2003 on the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World.

Jhally began the Media Education Foundation to encourage critical thinking and debate about the relationship between media ownership, commercial media content and the democratic demand for free flows of information. He authored or co-authored The Codes of Advertising; Social Communication in Advertising, and Enlightened Racism.

The event is organized by Andrea Hairston, professor of theatre, who is collaborating with Elizabeth Roberts, a member of the Smith Class of 1981 on “Spindown,” a theatre work-in-progress about a future America struggling with the legacy of its “spinful” past. It is sponsored by the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute at Smith, which coordinates and nurtures collaborative, broad-scope scholarly short-term and long-term projects among a diverse crosscut of academicians.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174


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