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Chautauqua Institution: Former NPR president & media correspondents to appear

This week's theme at the Chautauqua Institution is especially timely this summer as some prominent newspapers in the United States cut back on their print product in favor of digital editions.  As WBFO and AM 970's Mark Scott reports, Chautauqua is exploring all things digital in this -- Week Six -- of its summer season.

The New Orleans Times Picayune is the largest newspaper in the nation so far to make a substantial move from print to digital only.  This fall, a printed newspaper will be available in New Orleans just three days a week.  The rest of the time readers will have to go online.  That's one of the issues two speakers will likely address Tuesday at the Chautauqua morning lecture.  Former NPR President Vivian Schiller will join NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik in an exploration of the changing media environment.  Schiller now oversees the digital efforts at NBC News.  Chautauqua President Tom Becker says the quality of journalism has been affected by the digital revolution.

"I think this business of how ubiquitous information is in our lives and how we can group it and send it around is at once invigorating, because you get access to things, but is also discouraging," Becker said.  "Some of the principles in good journalism, for example, are lost because of the instant communication that goes on.  So, you're not really checking things.

"Frankly, some things are put out as news that aren't news."

Wednesday's focus will be on digital identity.  Becker says renowned ethicist Braden Allenby will explore the concept of "second life" on the Internet and all of the consequences associated with that.

"So, if you're out there in a digital environment, and now you have a persona, and you're acting through it, what's the accountability you have for moral and ethical behavior?" Becker asks.  "And what are the consequences to you and society?"

And then on Thursday, Slate magazine's legal affairs correspondent Dahlia Lithwick will focus on the legal issues that have surfaced in this digital age.  As usual, the discussion continues later in the day at the Hall of Philosophy.  Chautauqua's Religion Director Joan Brown Campbell says a popular figure among Chautauquans, Reverend Otis Moss, III, will link digital issues with religion.

"We know him as a preacher.  But we have also seen him stand with his laptop and read the scripture out of his laptop," Campbell said.  "He communicates with his congregation in that way.  So, he's going to talk about how the digital world and the religious world have to come together. 

"He will say, it's a must."

This week digital theme is primarily aimed at Chautauqua's adult population.  Part of the mission at Chautauqua is to help adults expand their life-long learning.  But that doesn't mean young people are ignored.  In fact, you're likely to hear the laughter of children in a stroll around the Chautauqua grounds.  Chief Marketing Officer George Murphy says hundreds of kids are learning and just having fun.

"I think one of the hidden secrets of Chautauqua is that on any given day we have about 600 kids, ages 3 to 15, involved in our camps and clubs," Murphy said.  "Some of the activities are developmental and socializing when they're younger.  If (they're) in the boys and girls club, which is the oldest day camp in America, they get involved in programming.  Actors will come down.  So, it's just not recreation.  It does take advantage of what goes on here."

For those kids not interested in camp, Murphy says there are special studies classes that offer SAT preparation, second language instruction, computer programming and more. 

For children of the '60s, there's a special treat this week.  Friday night, the Temptations and the Four Tops perform live in concert at the Amphitheater.

The full schedule for Week Six at the Chautauqua Institution is available at http://www.ciweb.org.