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It's the media's responsibility to target the truth when reporting.

That was an overriding sentiment Wednesday evening at Nebraska Innovation Campus, where three journalists from the Midwest participated in a panel discussion of the state of journalism and democracy.

"There's a perception that one side is right on either side," said Mitch Smith, a reporter in the Chicago bureau of the New York Times who was one of the panelists. "I think that the way you would work through that is, for journalists, to explain how we do what we do."

Wednesday's event, titled "An Issue of Trust: Democracy and the Future of Journalism,"  was hosted by Humanities Nebraska. It was part of the Community Conversations series, which has held similar events in towns across the state. 

Other panelists Wednesday were Laura Bauer, an investigative reporter at the Kansas City Star, and JoAnne Young, state government reporter for the Lincoln Journal Star. Bill Kelly, senior producer of NET News, moderated the panel.

The panel took questions from the audience, covering such topics as "fake news," how the media landscape has changed and its impact on democracy.

As someone who talks with politicians on a regular basis, Young said she not only enters meetings with an open mind, but also leaves to write the story with one.

"Governmental officials are constantly telling us how transparent they are. We know they're not," she said. "But to be honest with you, neither are we. ... We need to be telling people, 'Here's how we wrote the story.'"

Bauer urged the audience to seek out and support credible sources, something that can be as simple as reading a publication's headlines.

"I think that is so crucial in this time," she said. "I think that it is so important that democracy and society have journalism, so supporting it is one of the biggest things."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7241 or cspilinek@journalstar.com.

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Newsroom intern

Fall semester newsroom intern at the Journal Star.

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