POMONA, N.Y. -- Members of this year's Leadership Rockland spent the first hour of February's meeting learning about the inner workings of print, online and radio journalism. Former Journal News columnist Bob Baird headed the panel, which included Robert Brum, who writes the Rockland Angle column for the Journal News, WRCR's Kerri Potter, and Daily Voice community editor Tina Traster. The day kicked off at WRCR's station at Provident Park.
After brief introductions, panel members fielded questions from the Leadership Rockland group, which includes leaders from business, government, not-for-profits, and other sectors. Will news organizations concentrate on news when there's so much diversion to entertainment? How do onsite news organizations make money? How do you cope with the 24/7 nature of the news?
There were numerous questions from a curious bunch of community stand-outs who are participating in the ten month program, in its 26th year, that offers participants exposure to and education on topics they don't necessarily encounter in their daily work.
Each month, members spend a full day attending themed panels and visiting sites and socializing. Tuesday's event was Arts, Culture, Media & Communications day.
After the media panel, Baird held a discussion on "Citizen Journalism & Social Media." He covered topics ranging from privacy to libel to the dangers of Twitter being used as a terrorist tool.
Drawing on his long career at the Journal News, Baird offered scenarios to the panel, asking them for feedback on how they should be handled in news organization.
He raised an interesting conundrum about obits: When writing them, is it incumbent upon the media to include a dark moment in someone's life if that moment was public and reported on?
One Rockland Leadership said if you were writing an obit for Bill Clinton, you'd have to include Monica Lewinsky. "Otherwise you would not trust the paper, right?"
Baird was pleased with the answer.
"Yes, exactly," he said. "You make a glancing reference, acknowledge the event and move on, but you cannot ignore it."
More than 600 participants have graduated from Leadership Rockland. Employers often sponsor participants, and absorb the $1,200 tuition and give employees time off to attend the full-day sessions. Tuition includes materials, meals and transportation. Partial scholarships may be available for applicants who request financial assistance.
Application deadline for Leadership Rockland 2017 is April 1.