From Columns to Characters: The Presidency and the Press in the Digital Age

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

8:00 AM - 5:30 PM

Location: Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom
Eight scholars and eight commentators will examine the evolving nature of the presidency and the press in the digital age. In addition, Fred Chang will deliver the luncheon address and the conference will be anchored by an end-of-day keynote discussion featuring Jon Meacham, Peter Baker and Jeffrey Engel.

Since the late 1990s, the fundamental relationship between the presidency and the press has undergone dramatic change as the press of ink on a page has yielded to the instant transmission of ones and zeros - from columns and reports drafted, edited, and considered for hours to tweets that leave the fingertips in a few seconds. 

This conference explores the effects of this digital reality on those who attempt to manage the communications of the president and those who challenge, interpret, and ultimately inform the world of just what is going on in the White House. Those who have participated in this process, and who attend this conference, are the first practitioners and scholars of the digital age and the presidency.



8:00 a.m.:      Guest registration

8:30 a.m.:      Welcome: Sandra Duhé, Department of Communication Studies, SMU

8:35 a.m.:      Opening Remarks: "From Columns to Characters" Thomas DeFrank (Columns) and Olivier Knox (Characters)

8:55 a.m.:      Panel 1: Rita Kirk, "New Media, Interactivity, and Rapid Response in Presidential Communication" and Roderick Hart, "Presidents, Press and the Language They Own: A Reexamination and Extension"
                      Commentators: Robert Mong and Jimmy Orr

10:30 a.m.:   Panel 2: Stephen Smith, "Tweets and Twits: Technological Transformations and Timeless Truths" and Tony Pederson, "From Ellsberg to Snowden: Is It Journalism or Treason?"
                     Commentators: Stacia Philips-Deshishku and Todd Gilman

12:05 p.m.:   Luncheon Speaker: Frederick R. Chang

1:15 p.m.:     Panel 3: George Edwards, "Leading the Public Through the New Media" and Martha Joynt Kumar, "Presidents and the Press: Continuity and Change in their Relationship"
                     Commentators: Peter Baker and David Demarest

2:50 p.m.:     Panel 4: Stephanie A. Martin, “The State of the Union is Strong: How Presidents Shape Social and Economic Policy”
                     Commentators: Thomas DeFrank and Olivier Knox

4:25 p.m.:     Keynote Wrap-Up Discussion: Jon Meacham and Peter Baker, moderated by Jeffrey Engel

5:30 p.m.:     Program Concludes

Registered educators can receive CPE credit for attending, but must sign in before each session to receive credit.

Parking will be available on the SMU campus. Free passes will be emailed to registered guests before the event.

For additional details on this event, including biographies of contributing scholars, commentators, and keynote discussants, please visit the Center for Presidential History's event page here
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