The Easterner & ASEWU connect media and politics

ASEWU and The Easterner host a discussion panel with local journalists and politicians examining the current relationship between the media and politics.


Richard N. Clark IV

Panel members (left to right) Michael Brock, The Easterner's editor-in-chief, former Garfield Councilwoman Sharon Schnebly , Spokane Public Radio News Director Doug Nadvornick and ASEWU President Dante Tyler. Each panelist agreed on the importance of healthy relationships between journalists and politicians.

By Sam Jackson, Copy Editor

Disclosure:  The Easterner was involved in the event that this story covers. The writer of the story, Sam Jackson, was not involved in the event in any way. The Easterner’s editor-in-chief, Michael Brock, and managing editor Jeremy Burnham did not participate in the editorial process for this story.  


ASEWU and The Easterner hosted a discussion panel, titled Media and Politics, to discuss the relationship between journalists and political figures.

The panel

The discussion took place on May 16 in the JFK Auditorium. Members of the panel included The Easterner’s Editor-in-Chief Michael Brock, ASEWU President Dante Tyler, Spokane Public Radio’s News Director Doug Nadvornick and former Garfield Councilwoman Sharon Schnebly. The discussion was moderated by The Easterner’s Managing Editor Jeremy Burnham and former ASEWU public relations specialist Madyson Rigg.

EWU students, faculty and staff attended the event and listened as panel members shared their views, experiences and solutions related to the growing tension between media and politics.



According to Schnebly, talking to the media was something that made her job as a city politician a “blessing and a curse.” She said she would try to make herself as available as she could, meaning journalists were calling her all the time because “nobody else wanted to talk to them.”

“I think that for me, the ability to be open with the media was always important,” Schnebly said.

Nadvornick said that he’s been around long enough as a reporter to get to know a lot of politicians pretty well. He said that many politicians are media shy and don’t want to talk to reporters.

When people are going to the news stations or the newspapers and they are assaulting the reporters, or killing the reporters because they didn’t like what they said, that’s a huge problem.”

— Sharon Schnebly, former councilwoman

“They feel like once they’ve been misquoted, then they just don’t want to talk to you anymore,” Nadvornick said. “That’s fine, which is why we go to people like (Schnebly) who I think are smart enough to understand which reporters they can trust (and) which reporters they need to be careful around. It makes sense for reporters like me to be straight with them as they’re straight with us so that they can continue to keep that relationship going.”

All of the panelists agreed that a working connection between journalists and politicians is necessary on both ends. Brock said that The Easterner exercised that concept by informing students on who is running for student body government and why it’s important to vote. Tyler said he’s felt that by communicating with The Easterner he’s helped “bridge the gap” between media and politics at EWU.

During the discussion the journalist panelists were asked to put themselves in the shoes of a politician and think about the concerns they may have about the media; the politician panelists were asked to reciprocate.

Tyler said he understands the importance of journalists holding politicians accountable and believes a relationship with the media trumps his own views on a publication’s report, even if it involves himself.

“Even if I didn’t like what you reported on me, (and) if I thought you misquoted me all of the time, I’d still have a relationship with you,” Tyler said. “I’d want some sort of being … held accountable for my actions and what I’m doing. Thankfully, The Easterner’s done a good job at making sure no one’s misquoted.”

Brock said that when he looks at what The Easterner covers in regards to student government, he mentioned elections, that “maybe we could’ve done a little bit more” coverage of the day to day actions of ASEWU.

Richard N. Clark IV
ASEWU President Dante Tyler discussing his own relationship with the media. Tyler mentioned the improved connection between ASEWU and The Easterner.


Technology impact

Both Nadvornik and Tyler agreed during the discussion that an issue in media is how technology has revolutionized the news industry. Tyler said it’s a national issue because people are getting different information from all over the place without knowing if it’s credible or not. Tyler said it’s “destroyed our country” in that sense.

“I can find news outlets that I decide are the most credible, and for some people it’s not public radio. It’s not NBC. It’s not ABC,” Nadvornik said. “It may be FOX. It may be YouTube. It may be something else.”

Schnebly said the war on the media is “really bad.” She said that the media plays a huge role in everyone’s ability to understand what’s going on in the world.

“When journalists who are legitimately trying to put out that news are attacked, when people are going to the news stations or the newspapers and they are assaulting the reporters, or killing the reporters because they didn’t like what they said, that’s a huge problem,” Schnebly said. “I think that politicians need to play a better role in that.”


Going forward

During the discussion, Brock and Tyler were asked if the current state of the media and political relationship in the U.S. affects their career ambitions. Both are graduating from EWU in June.

“Overall I would say that it is a scary thing but it kind of empowers me to work harder,” Brock said. “Journalists, just like politicians … there are good ones and bad ones. So, it makes me want to work harder to be one of the good ones.”

Tyler has wanted to be a politician since he was in the third grade.

“I’ve tried to do nothing wrong my whole life,” Tyler said. “Not joking. And it’s very stressful.”

Tyler added that he has been very careful about anything he’s ever posted on social media. He said that one wrong post documented on social media could destroy his entire life and everything he’s ever done to build his career.

“Through all of this, I still want to do it because I think I can make a real difference in the world,” Tyler said.

Richard N. Clark IV
The Easterner’s Editor-n-Chief Michael Brock shaking hands with former Garfield Councilwoman Sharon Schnebly. The panel discussion drew a crowd of about 25.


Audience reactions

Ielleen Miller is an EWU library faculty member and librarian for the journalism department. She chose to attend the panel because she’s interested in the topic and because she’s teaching a First Year Experience (FYE) course next fall quarter about media analysis. She said she was getting some ideas from the panel to share in her class.

Miller said the most interesting thing she took away from the discussion was when Tyler talked about wanting to be a politician and how he’s been thinking about his social media presence since he was 12.

“I thought, ‘Wow the pressure you have on you to be perfect, to not have anything salacious in your past, like wow,’” Miller said in reference to Tyler’s experience. “And like Doug Nadvornick said, that’s so sad.”

EWU senior Kyle Hogarty sat in on the discussion. He enjoyed when the panelists answered his own question about how students can follow credible news accounts on social media, but he said the discussion was very media based and he wanted hear more about the political aspect.

“Overall I would say that it is a scary thing but it kind of empowers me to work harder,” Brock said. “Journalists, just like politicians … there are good ones and bad ones. So, it makes me want to work harder to be one of the good ones.”

— Michael Brock, The Easterner editor-in-chief

“It didn’t sound like (they) talked a bunch about politics,” Hogarty said. “(They) talked more of the media but the media is the hot subject right now.”

Tyler thought the discussion was really interesting. He said he went into the panel a little hesitant but he found that the other panelists were really open.

“Nobody felt like they we’re going to save the world or solve all of the issues,” Tyler said. “They were very thoughtful about every answer they gave, and they were very to the point on those answers too. I really appreciated it.”