The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Bari Weiss speaks at UWEC

Journalist Bari Weiss speaks on freedom of press issues at Constitution Day event
Photo by Caleb Kleinhans
Bari Weiss and Adam Kunz speaking during the event on Constitution Day.

UW-Eau Claire hosted journalist Bari Weiss from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, in the Schofield Auditorium. The talk was sponsored by the Menard Center for Consitiutional Studies and was free to the public.

Bari Weiss is an American journalist and opinion writer who has worked for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and most recently started her own independent media company The Free Press.

An interview with Professor Adam Kunz, Menard Center board member and moderator for the event, said why Weiss was chosen.

“Bari Weiss was selected this year because we wanted to focus on freedom of the press and we wanted to hear from somebody who has not followed a traditional route in that,” Kunz said. “She has some very strong opinions about the press, ones that we may or may not agree with but we thought it was valuable to bring her on to spur some conversations.”

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Noah Tolbert, a first-year creative writing and religious studies student, came for the discussion of press issues.

“It’s a pretty contentious issue right now and I like hearing the opinions of educated people on it.”   

Weiss expressed her opinion on journalism throughout the talk.

“I believe journalism is essential for democracy,” Weiss said. “I’m very grateful that we’re living through a moment where the tools of the (press) trade are available to anyone.” 

Weiss also discussed the issue of social media. 

“We are living in a brave new world,” Weiss said. “These are highly potent drugs, these algorithms and should be understood that way.” 

Grayson Farago, a fifth-year political science major attended the event. Farago was interviewed after the talk.

“I think it’s important right now just to talk to people on the other side,” Farago said. “I think a way to get people out of echo chambers is to talk to them and try to expose them to new information.”  

In 2018, the tree of life synagogue, where Weiss said she had her Bat Mitzvah, was the target of a mass shooting where 11 people were killed. She recently wrote a book: How to Fight Anti-Semitism, that won the 2019 National Jewish Book Award.  

Weiss touched on fighting anti-semitism.  

“I truly believe the way you defeat evil, barbarous ideas, is with better ideas,” Weiss said. “Ideas really matter for good and ill.” 

Adam Kunz said what he hopes students got from the speaker.

“Bari and I don’t agree on everything, in fact I think there’s quite a bit that she and I would disagree about pretty vehemently,” Kunz said. “My hope is by watching us engage in a conversation on stage you can see how two different people with different opinions and approaches can talk about a core problem in society, which is how we get our news.” 

He also said the Menard Center, welcomes students to reach out with suggestions for an event or speaker.

“We’re always taking suggestions because we’re non-partisan – we value everybody’s ideas. We would love a wide diversity of thought brought to campus,” Kunz said. 

Kleinhans can be reached at [email protected].

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