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MU to host Food, Fuel and Society Symposium

NPR host will attend Mizzou Advantage-funded day of discussion

Aug. 12, 2010

Story Contact(s):
, munewsbureau@missouri.edu

Janet Saidi, an assistant professor of radio and television in the MU School of Journalism and news director of MU’s NPR station, KBIA-FM.

Janet Saidi, an assistant professor of radio and television in the MU School of Journalism and news director of MU’s NPR station, KBIA-FM.

Story Contact
Janet Saidi, SaidiJ@missouri.edu, 573-239-9837

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— NPR science reporter Ira Flatow will headline an MU symposium, “Food, Fuel and Society: Stories From a Changing Landscape.” Part of Mizzou Advantage, the program will be an interdisciplinary forum to bring clarity to major issues surrounding production of food and fuel.

The symposium, to be held on MU’s campus at the Reynolds Journalism Institute on October 12 at 9 a.m., will be a collaboration among three of the five Mizzou Advantage initiatives. The interactive day of discussion will be led by a diverse group of faculty members from the School of Journalism; the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources; the College of Arts and Science; MU Extension and the Reynolds Journalism Institute. 

The day also will kick off Harvest Public Media, a local journalism center consisting of a unique collaboration of public radio stations in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri that will report on food and fuel issues. Harvest, one of seven Local Journalism Centers being launched across the country with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will examine issues related to agriculture production and consumption.

Participants in the Food, Fuel and Society forum will be able to interact through various media, including live webcasts and podcasts available for download after the event.  In addition, Flatow will provide expertise on navigating the complicated issues as a journalist during the forum. Other topics on the agenda include ethanol demands, food safety and the local foods movement.

“Our intention is to motivate media to participate in the event,” said Janet Saidi, an assistant professor of radio and television in the MU School of Journalism and news director of MU’s NPR station, KBIA-FM. “It will be a day to learn about the issues from people working on the front lines.”

Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Harvest Local Media will allow public radio stations around the Midwest to collaborate across multimedia platforms. One of the main goals of the local journalism center will be to disseminate accurate and understandable information about food and fuel production issues. Saidi expects the local journalism center to connect people with sources and shed light on untold stories using new media.

Saidi hopes the project will create relationships among the public, experts, and citizens.

“People benefit from journalism by staying informed.” Saidi said. “Our goal is to make complicated issues compelling and clear.”

During a three-year process, MU faculty, students and alumni identified MU’s top competitive assets, or unique strengths, that set MU apart from other universities. These assets underlie five dynamic initiatives that collectively are called the Mizzou Advantage. The Food, Fuel and Society symposium is a part of Mizzou Advantage’s Media of the Future, Food for the Future, and Sustainable Energy initiatives.

Mizzou Advantage was created to increase MU’s visibility, stature and impact in higher education locally, statewide, nationally and around the world. The first round of funding, totaling more than $900,000, supports proposals that boost existing faculty and community networks, create new interdisciplinary collaborations, strengthen the student learning experience and propel Mizzou’s research to the next level.

Editor’s note: Media interested in attending the event should contact Tim Lloyd at timlloyd@kcur.org;  573-999-4896 . Media interested in Harvest Public Media should contact Donna Vestal, donna.vestal@kcur.org; (816) 235-2828.

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