The University Record, September 28, 1992

Press Club meeting focuses on privacy of public figures

By Janet Nellis Mendler
News and Information Services

Should politicians and public figures ever expect to keep their private lives private? Should their families and friends, too, give up their rights to privacy?

In an improvisational drama, Under the Rock, a cast of Michigan journalists and politicians will argue those questions and the use of confidential sources during the 75th annual meeting here of the University Press Club of Michigan on Friday (Oct. 2). A group of Ann Arbor residents “representing common sense and the American way” will react to the events and reporting decisions as they unfold in the drama.

Moderator will be state capitol journalist-broadcaster Tim Skubick. The cast includes Lansing political activist and real estate developer Joel Ferguson; state Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing; American Civil Liberties Union legal director Paul Denenfeld; and editors, reporters and broadcasters from Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Lansing.

As the curtain rises, a hotly contested mayoral election looms in Mary Meadow, home of Motor State University. A political ally of one of the candidates is preparing to invite local reporters to his office “to see a really interesting document.” He will set only one condition—that they keep his name out of whatever stories they do as a result of reading the document.

The opening event for the Press Club’s annual meeting is a brunch and presentation of the Morgan O’Leary Award for Political Reporting at the Michigan League. This year’s winner, an investigative reporting team from the Detroit Free Press, also will present a session.

A reception at the Museum of Art and a dinner in the Michigan Union follow the afternoon drama. Dinner speaker is Andrew Kohut, director of the Times-Mirror Center for the People and the Press and president of Princeton Survey Research Associates. The dinner also features presentation of the Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism awards to television and radio stations and to daily, weekly, college and university newspapers in Michigan.

The program is open to the public and pre-registration is required. For fees and registration information, call Janet Nellis Mendler, 747-1848, or Cindy Sakstrup, 764-5305.