Mellen Draws on Local Experts for Sept. 11 Course

Posted: June 17, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Carrie Secondo

Three days a week, a group of 13 students gather to learn about journalism in relation to the Sept. 11 attacks in Roger Mellen’s special summer course, Terrorism and the News. The five-week course explores the role news media played during the attacks and in the days and months following.

“This one-credit course has drawn a really special group of students–they are taking this class because they are really interested in the topic,” Mellen says.

Mellen has arranged an impressive lineup of local experts from news organizations and think tanks in the Washington, D.C., area.

Wednesday, May 29, Paul McMasters, First Amendment ombudsman for The Freedom Forum, was the guest speaker. McMasters led a thought-provoking discussion on what he calls the “culture of secrecy” in government, how First Amendment freedoms have been jeopardized, and how reporters’ jobs have been affected.

“Sometimes I feel like a talk show booker instead of a college professor, calling and scheduling people to come join our class,” Mellen says. “But it is great. There are a wealth of knowledgeable people in this area, many of whom I met working in journalism, and they are happy to come join our class for a day,” he says.

A television photographer and reporter who covered the Pentagon attack also visited the group. Mellen is working on plans for other guest speakers, including a scholar who will address Islamic images in the media, a CNN Pentagon reporter, and an executive editor of the web site to discuss reporting war on the web. Mellen is also awaiting special permission for his class to observe a press conference at the Pentagon.

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