Thursday, March 15, 2007

Broadwater Symposium: Science, Politics and Journalism, on April 4 at Avery Point

If you’re confused by the Broadwater issue, or perplexed about why you don’t get a better sense of what’s going on from reading the news, join the club. It’s a tough issue to explain and a tough one to follow, particularly if you decided you were going to wait to learn some of the facts before you made up your mind about it.

Greg Stone, the deputy editorial page editor at the New London Day, considered news coverage of Broadwater to be problematic as well, and so he’s organized a public discussion of the issue, called “Science, Politics and Journalism: Unraveling the Broadwater Controversy,” and billed as a symposium on science and journalism sponsored by the University of Connecticut and The Day.

It will be held on Wednesday, April 4, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Branford House on UConn’s Avery Point campus, in Groton. It’s free, and if you live in the eastern half of Connecticut and follow the Broadwater issue, you should plan on attending.

Greg has recruited UConn professor Helen Rozwadowski, who teaches history and is a coordinator of the Maritime Studies program at UConn, to be the moderator. Two UConn professors – Frank Bohlen and Peter Auster – will be on the panel. Auster, you may remember, is one of four scientists who testified in Hartford late last year about what a poor job FERC did on Broadwater’s draft environmental impact statement. Frank Bohlen has been studying Long Island Sound for considerably longer than I’ve been writing about it, which at this point is about 24 years.

When he was first starting to plan the symposium, Greg Stone asked me to suggest some reporters who might be willing to participate. I told him that his own paper had the best environmental reporter in the Sound region, Judy Benson. Turns out I undersold her. About two weeks after Greg and I talked, the New England Press Association named Judy the best journalist – not merely environmental reporter – in New England. She’s going to participate too.

I’m the fourth person on the panel.

Although the event of course is free, they’d like you to let them know that you’ll attend, by March 30. The person to contact is Lisa Poole, whose email is and whose phone number is 860 405-9262.

Plan to attend. It won’t be a debate about the merits of Broadwater but it should be an interesting discussion about how the press covers issues that require an understanding and explanation of the nuances of science – but not only that. As Greg told us: “Be clear this is a problem not only of science, but democracy.”


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