Pulitzer Prize winners to speak in Grove Hill, Thomasville, Talladega

Pulitzer Prize winners John Archibald of al.com and Alabama Media Group and Harold Jackson, editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, will be featured in What Comes To Light: Alabama Journalists And An Informed Citizenry, public forums to be held in Clarke and Talladaga counties.

Presented by AHF, Archibald will speak at Clarke County High School in Grove Hill and Coastal Alabama Community College in Thomasville Tuesday, Oct. 23. The Grove Hill event will be held at 10:25 a.m., and the Thomasville forum will be held at 5:30 p.m.

Jackson will speak at Talladega’s Historic Ritz Theatre Oct. 30. The forum is slated for 5:30 p.m.

Archibald won journalism’s highest award for commentary, his words chronicling and challenging Alabama politics. Dana Canedy, administrator for the Pulitzers, called Archibald’s work “lyrical and courageous commentary rooted in Alabama but has a national resonance in scrutinizing corrupt politicians, championing the rights of women and calling out of hypocrisy.”

He began his career with The Birmingham News in 1986 and has written commentary for the newspaper and al.com for the past 14 years.

Archibald, the son of a Methodist minister, was born in Alabaster and lived in several towns in the state before they settled in Birmingham. He graduated from The University of Alabama with a degree in Journalism.

In partnership with two- and four-year college and university faculty and staff, local news outlets, Alabama journalists, and public and private secondary schools, the Alabama Humanities Foundation is presenting this series of public forums devoted to provoking public discussion of the role of journalism in a healthy democracy and the contributions of the humanities to an informed citizenry.

Archibald, Jackson and other journalists will reflect on their careers and speak to the current climate in which journalists operate. On the Archibald panel will be scholar George Daniels of The University of Alabama College of Communication Studies, and journalist Kyle Whitmire, state political commentator for Alabama Media Group/al.com.

Jackson will be joined by scholar Dr. Jennifer Adams, director of the School of Communication and Journalism at Auburn University, and journalist Anthony Cook, executive editor of Consolidated Publishing.

All presenters will encourage attendees to give careful consideration to reliable and unreliable sources of information.

Journalists currently working in Alabama will speak to immediate challenges and opportunities close to home. And finally, scholars will provide some historical context with a discussion of Alabamians whose contributions to the profession continue to inspire investigative journalism and truth-telling in small towns and larger cities alike.

Staff of the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to strengthening civic life in all of Alabama’s 67 counties, will serve as moderators for the public discussions. Events will be live streamed on Facebook.

Alabama chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists, the Alabama Scholastic Press Association and the Alabama-based National Elementary Schools Press Association will serve as statewide partners to help promote the forum and discussion series.

AHF aims to highlight the work of three Alabama-born Pulitzers winners while providing young people and general audiences in three communities the opportunity to engage directly with these award-winning journalists. This initial presentation and exchange will provide fodder for a deeper community conversation about the critical role journalists play in maintaining an informed citizenry and how that information in turn affects democracy.

Discussion, facilitated by neutral moderators from the Mathews Center, will encourage attendees to think about the obstacles journalists face, how to discern sources’ veracity, and why it is important that investigative journalism continues to serve as the basis for American intellectual life while adapting to a changing media landscape.

The forums have been held in Rainsville and Ft. Payne with Pulitzer Prize winner Joey Bunch, a DeKalb County native, who was part of the reporting team covering the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

What Comes To Light locations and partners:

• Northeast Alabama’s Sand Mountain area and Fort Payne are proud of hometown son Joey Bunch, whose alma mater Northeast Alabama Community College will be a partner in the project, along with local high schools and The Fort Payne Times-Journal.

• Southwest Alabama and the Thomasville area are known as the birthplace of author and former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare David Mathews and storyteller and writer Kathryn Tucker Windham, as well as the late Birmingham News reporter/editor Clarke Stallworth, and current Alabama Media Group political reporter Kyle Whitmire. Partners here will include Coastal Alabama Community College and its Kathryn Tucker Windham Museum, the Clarke County School system, and the Clarke County Democrat and Thomasville Times newspapers.

• East central Alabama and the Talladega area served by historically black Talladega College and the art-deco Ritz Theater has a rich history of appreciation for the written word and collective inquiry. Home to seven long-established reading clubs and the birthplace of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jack Nelson, Talladega County is also home to a branch campus of Central Alabama Community College and to the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. These institutions, as well as local schools and The Daily Home newspaper will serve as partners to the project.

Alabama journalists involved in What Comes To Light include:

• Anna Claire Vollers, Madison County native and 2017 Images & Voices of Hope Restorative Narrative Fellow;

• Kyle Whitmire, Clarke County native and political commentator, Alabama Media Group/AL.com;

• Staff of local papers in regions of the state where the forums will take place.

Scholars to be involved in the project are:

• George Daniels, dean of Administration, College of Communication and Information Sciences, The University of Alabama;

• Meredith Cummings, instructor and director of the Alabama Scholastic Press Association, College of Communication and Information Sciences, The University of Alabama;

• Jennifer Adams, associate professor and director of the School of Communication and Journalism, Auburn University;

• Clary Carey, assistant professor of Journalism and Mass Communication in the Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Samford University.

What Comes To Light is a Federation of State Humanities Councils program. AHF and the Federation of State Humanities Councils thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership. To join in on the conversation, use #HumCitizen.