Our Democracy and the Informed Citizen initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed society. 

On September 22nd, 2020 we are hosting “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” virtually. This program is made possible by the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. 

Our goal for this program is to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the intimate connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry; based on; that a healthy democracy requires informed citizenry, the humanities and journalism play a vital role in fostering an informed citizenry, and informed citizens are media literate. 

We hope this program increases civic engagement by providing you the access to civil discussions with Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists in journalism, other respected journalists, and scholars about reliable and unreliable sources of information. 

This program was made possible by the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered by the Federation of the State Humanities Councils. 
Our partners for this series are the University of Missouri System, Missouri Press Association, KBIA, an the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. 

For more information, contact Ashley Beard-Fosnow at ashley@mohumanities.org

Democracy and the Informed Citizen will cover;
  • The abilities and limitations of columnists to shape public opinion
  • The historical, ethical, and constitutional foundations of a free press
  • The shifting media landscape and how it affects our ability to access information, assess its creditability, and analyze its significance
  • The role media plays in electoral politics and the 2020 election, in particular
  • The media and polarization in America
  • Current topics covered by columnists and in the news
Event Schedule – 

7:00 PM – Introduction and Welcome
7:10 PM – Panel Discussion
8:00 PM – Questions and Answers 
8:20 PM – Closing Remarks

In partnership with the University of Missouri (UM) System, we will deliver a major public program, virtually through Zoom or a similar platform, on September 22, 2020 from 7-8:30pm. The panel discussion will explore the critical role the humanities and journalism play in shaping the judgements and opinions of citizens in a democratic society. In advance of the 2020 presidential election, the partners will bring together University students with rural and urban viewers from across the Show Me State, remotely. MH and UM will unite an ideologically diverse crowd around the importance of quality journalism in support of an informed citizenry and a healthy democracy. 

The program will feature a conversation between Michael Gerson, a nationally syndicated columnist; Tony Messenger, reporter and columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; and Ruby Bailey, Executive Editor at the Columbia Missourian and Missouri Community Newspaper Management Chair at the Missouri School of Journalism.  

The conversation will be moderated by Janet Saidi, Assistant News Director at KBIA radio.  


Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson is the author of Heroic Conservatism. He appears regularly on the PBS NewsHour,” and Face the Nation. Until 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as his assistant to the president for policy and strategic planning.

Ruby Bailey 

Ruby Bailey is a professor at the prestigious Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri– Columbia. Bailey worked for the Detroit Free Press for 16 years and became a Washington correspondent, where she covered news of interest to Michigan readers. In 2014 she joined the Sacramento Bee, where she led a team of reporters focused on increasing and improving the Bee’s digital content. She has experience covering and editing all aspects of local news, including business, entertainment and feature coverage.

Tony Messenger

Tony Messenger offers progressive commentary for the St. Louis region. His reporting on Ferguson, MO, following the death of Michael Brown made him a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2015. His win in 2019 recognized him for bold columns that exposed the malfeasance and injustice of forcing poor rural Missourians charged with misdemeanor crimes to pay unaffordable fines or be sent to jail.