WAKEFIELD — The staff of the Beebe Library recently announced the return of News & Views, a semimonthly forum beginning Monday, Jan. 12, where you and fellow community members are invited to discuss the news and air your views on a wide variety of interesting, contemporary topics.
Originally launched in late 2012, this engaging current events roundtable is back in a new location, meeting in the Blake Gallery near the Reference Desk and with a new moderator, Paul Robicheau of Salem State University. Additionally, this year’s series is made possible by a grant from the Wakefield Cultural Council, a local chapter of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
When asked why she believed this program was valuable, Library Director Sharon Gilley said, “Whether you get your news from Jon Stewart or Bill O’Reilly, the Boston Globe or the Boston Herald, Huffington Post or the BBC, we all get smarter from civilized discourse. It can be hard to deconstruct state, national and international news reporting and topics like race relations are difficult to approach. Perhaps that means we should try harder — to open lines of inquiry into topics with trust and respect for our neighbors.”
The library is excited to welcome moderator Paul Robicheau to the table. He has spent more than 30 years as a journalist; he wrote extensively for The Boston Globe between 1998 and 2000 and has served for 20 years as a contributing editor for The Improper Bostonian. A founding arts/news editor at Boston Metro, he has also contributed to Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Chicago Sun-Times. In addition, Robicheau is entering his sixth year of teaching media writing and editing in the Communications Department at Salem State University. He agreed to moderate the program, said, because, “Especially in an age when people are glued to phones and computers for their communication and news, it’s important to compare ideas face-to-face with members of a broad community.”
Robicheau attended past sessions of News & Views at the library as well as other similar forums when he was in college, so he is familiar with the format. He plans to keep the original structure, providing a guide sheet at the beginning of the session that will list timely, diverse topics and pose questions about their impacts and perceptions. The floor will then be open for discussion. How will the topics be chosen? Robicheau plans to consider dominant (or under-the-radar) issues that he finds interesting or provocative in the national or regional news over the previous week. Topics that might be trending in social media may also be included.
When asked if there were any topics he planned to avoid Robicheau said, “Not as a matter of course, as long as the topics are appropriate in a public, all-ages space. I may steer around polarizing religious or political subjects that don’t provide enough common ground for constructive discussion.”
He also said that today’s heated political climate “might spice things up,” but he hopes to keep the discussion fair and open-minded to those involved.
Whatever your views, please join us every second and fourth Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Blake Gallery for News & Views. Said Gilley, “A public forum provides an alternative to media as a vehicle for gathering information. Wouldn’t it be nice to enter the voting booth a little better informed? Civic discourse makes for more enlightened citizens, a tighter community and better dinner table conversations.”
And what better place for these discussions to take place than the Beebe Library? After all, it’s where Wakefield connects.