Previous Reilly Center John Breaux Symposiums | LSU Manship

Previous John Breaux Symposia

2017 Breaux Symposium - Blurred Boundaries, Real Consequences: The Intersection of Public Policy and Race

2011 Breaux Symposium Report - In the Name of Democracy

The study and practice of political communication are at a crossroads. Within the past decade, the political and media environment has rapidly become markedly more fragmented and polarized. Control of the White House and Congress has shifted back and forth across parties, bringing dramatic changes—and often gridlock—to national policy agendas. Presidents and other elected representatives struggle to make policy and communicate with the public in an often corrosive political atmosphere. And reporters try to make sense of it all with fewer resources and a seemingly less attentive public.

What can be done to improve the study and practice of political communication in this changed environment?  How can scholars learn more from practitioners and practitioners learn more from scholars in order to elevate political discourse and public understanding?  And crucially, what can the academy do to prepare students for the changing world of media and politics?

The study and practice of political communication are at a crossroads. Within the past decade, the political and media environment has rapidly become markedly more fragmented and polarized. Control of the White House and Congress has shifted back and forth across parties, bringing dramatic changes—and often gridlock—to national policy agendas. Presidents and other elected representatives struggle to make policy and communicate with the public in an often corrosive political atmosphere. And reporters try to make sense of it all with fewer resources and a seemingly less attentive public.

What can be done to improve the study and practice of political communication in this changed environment?  How can scholars learn more from practitioners and practitioners learn more from scholars in order to elevate political discourse and public understanding?  And crucially, what can the academy do to prepare students for the changing world of media and politics?

March 28th featured a discussion moderated by LSU’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost John Maxwell Hamilton, “Professionals and Academics:  Learning From One Another for the Public Good.”  Panelists will included Amy Walter, Bill Purcell, Michael Delli Carpini and Shanto Iyengar.
March 29th panelists explored, examined and tested new ideas to expand and deepen the study of media and public affairs in the classroom, in the public arena, and through research.  Session topics will include incivility in politics, the challenges of governing in a polarized media environment, and how to better train students for the 21st century.

Panelists included: Lance Bennett, University of Washington; Robert Entman, The George Washington University; Dan Balz, The Washington Post; Shanto Iyengar, Stanford University; Roderick Hart, University of Texas; Bill Purcell, Harvard University; Amy Walter, ABC News; Michael X. Delli Carpini, University of Pennsylvania; Bob Mann and Regina Lawrence, Louisiana State University.

 

2010 The Influence of Ethnic Media on Politics and Participation

This symposium sought to provide fresh perspectives on ethnic media — their relevancy among political professionals, academics, ethnic, general audience and digital media professionals, their impact on civic participation and voting patterns and their value to the general audience press and consumers.

 

2009 By the People, For the People: Redefining Public Opinion Polling in an Age of Segmented Markets and Personalized Communication

Mark Blumenthal described the 2008 presidential election as the “perfect storm” for pollsters.  A potential Bradley effect, an increasingly cell-phone only population, and aggressive registration and mobilization campaigns by Barack Obama challenged conventional understanding about how to measure and report public preferences. In this symposium, we explore the issues involved in gauging public opinion in an age of increasingly personalized and interactive communications. We also place recent developments in public opinion polling into a broader historical context, examine how the construct meaning from public opinion surveys, and conclude by looking at the future of public opinion polling.  The 2009 symposium idea came from the Manship School’s Kirby Goidel, who was also the lead organizer.  Essays by the panelists will result in the publication of a volume in the Media & Public Affairs book series, a collaborative project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and LSU Press.

Survey research is going through its most significant transition since the development and widespread adoption of probability-based sampling in 1936. What emerges from this transition is likely to differ in important ways from the mainstay of survey research from 1974 to the present—landline telephone interviews based on random digit dialing. Political Polling in the Digital Age examines how the meaning and measurement of public opinion is changing in an age with almost unlimited information choices and opportunities for public feedback.  Do we need better instruments to measure public opinion? Or do we need to fundamentally alter the way we think about public opinion and how it influences democratic governance?

 

2008 New Models for News

The 2008 Breaux Symposium, “New Models for News,” expanded on the findings of the 2004 symposium, “News in the Public Interest.”  The April 25-26 symposium broadened the analysis of original news-gathering and publication to include nonprofit and for profit economic models not just inside the U.S., but internationally, in particular Europe.  Organized by Chuck Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity and president of the Fund for Independence in Journalism and John Maxwell Hamilton, LSU’s provost and executive vice chancellor and former dean of the Manship School, the symposium featured essays and discussion from a distinguished panel of scholars and professionals.

 

2007 A Toolkit for News Consumers

The 2007 Breaux Symposium examined the rigorous relationship that should exist between the media and informed news consumers by using the 2008 presidential election as a starting point.

 

2005 We Hold These Truths? How New Technology is Changing Foreign Affairs Reporting

The job of a foreign correspondent, as Richard DiBenedetto of USA Today put it, is “to go someplace where the people at home can’t go and [truthfully] tell them what happened when you got there.” This Breaux Symposium explored ways that new media technology–from satellites and cell phones to digital convergence and the Internet–has changed the creation of foreign news, its delivery, the amount and style of coverage, the accuracy and reliability of information from abroad, public opinion about foreign affairs, and the economics of the media industry.  The findings from this symposium resulted in a book published through the Media & Public Affairs bookseries fromPigeons to News Portals, edited by David Perlmutter and John Maxwell Hamilton.

 

2004 News in the Public Interest: A Free and Subsidized Press

The fifth annual Breaux Symposium, entitled “News in the Public Interest: A Free and Subsidized Press,” focused on a clear though complex question – how can you increase the production, dissemination, and consumption of hard news? The conference was built on the premise that while media markets deliver diverse, instantaneous, and voluminous amounts of information, there are predictable flaws in media coverage. The lack of expressed demand and high costs of production increasingly mean hard news is eclipsed in print and broadcast markets. The emphasis on entertainment and journalists as celebrities crowds out discussion of public affairs.  The 2004 symposium focused on a discussion of the types of efforts needed to raise the quality and quantity of hard news, given the economics of news markets.  Topics of discussion included: the potential costs of interventions, their likelihood of success, and the indicators one would use to measure progress in promoting public discussion, comprehension, and participation in politics.The six session topics were non-profit ownership, foundation subsidies for information, individual/family ownership, partisan information, government subsidies and international models.

 

2003 Freeing the Presses

Organized by Dr. Timothy Cook, The Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Chair in Political Communication, the 2003 Breaux Symposium explored the first amendment from three areas:  law and history, institutional autonomy of the press, and the economic and technological situations of the news media.  The symposium included a presentation of academic papers written specifically on the three areas: Law and History, Institutional Autonomy of the Press and  Economic and Technological Situations of the New Media. The session included prepared comments from responders and questions from audience members.

 

2002 Parties, PACs and Persuasion: New Ways of Connecting with Voters

This symposium included 12 panelists who participated in a round table discussion.  Questions the panel addressed concerned the role of advocacy groups in today’s campaigns, the role of the media in multi-dimensional campaigns and the future of the parties in political campaigns.

 

2001 Voting Alone

The 2001 symposium explored the disconnect among voters, the amount of information available from the media, how voters are making decisions and the impact of the historic 2000 presidential elections on future interactions among the media, candidates and the electorate.

 

2000 The Press at the Turn of the Century

The inaugural Breaux Symposium, “The Press at the Turn of the Century,” was held in 2000.  It investigated the Press’s decline in credibility with the American public and how journalists could restore confidence in a profession badly tarnished by excess and competition.