Heffner, host of ‘The Open Mind' on PBS, to speak at WSU


The host of “The Open Mind” on PBS, Alexander Heffner, a journalist, writer, commentator and educator, will be the keynote speaker at the Elliott School of Communication's annual CommWeek held at Wichita State University this month.

The keynote address is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the CAC Theater on the WSU campus. Following the address, Heffner will hold a Q&A session. This event is open to students, faculty, staff and the public free of charge.

Heffner's keynote speech, “Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age: The Quest for a Post-Partisan Citizenship,” will cover, according to Heffner, “the effects of divisiveness on discourse and governance and the impact of social media, fake news and filter bubbles that polarize information intake.” The speech will answer questions such as, “What are possible prescriptions to correct this vicious cycle? How can our footprint translate into pro-social instead of anti-social behavior? How can the press restore faith in civic life, democracy and the construction of public policy?” Hear what the host of the longest-running TV show in history believes could be the solutions.

The event is underwritten by the Elliott School of Communication and the Department of Political Science at Wichita State University. KMUW-89.1, Wichita Public Radio, is the media sponsor of this event.

Heffner is available to speak individually to the press Thursday morning and afternoon. Call Jeffrey Jarman at 316-978-6075 for arrangements.

Alexander Heffner has covered American politics, civic life and millennials for leading newspapers and magazines. His work has been profiled in The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, and on MSNBC and CNN. He is coauthor of “A Documentary History of the United States” (Penguin, 2018). A native New Yorker, he is a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and Harvard. He founded and edited the first-ever online national student newspapers covering the 2008 presidential campaign and the Obama presidency.

“The Open Mind,” is a nationally broadcast, public-affairs interview program, the longest-running in the history of American public television. First broadcast in May 1956, the show's format includes analysis of politics, media, technology, the arts and realms of civic life. Its creator, Richard Heffner, was host until his death in December 2013. In 2014 his grandson, Alexander Heffner, took over as the program's host renewing its commitment to civil discourse — now for a new generation. 

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