VTDigger founder to speak on fake news

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BENNINGTON — A veteran Vermont reporter will be in Bennington on Thursday to share her take on fake news and other issues impacting the news industry.

Anne Galloway, founder and editor of VTDigger.org, has been a reporter for over 20 years. Her talk, which will take place at the Bennington Museum, will focus on the impact fake news, social media, and the decline of the print journalism industry has had on the media landscape and the public discourse.

The event is presented by The Lightning Jar, Bennington's collaborative co-working space. Tickets are $15 in advance, and can be purchased at the organization's website, www.lightningjarvt.com, or $20 at the door. There will be a cash bar and light refreshments.

This is the third installment in The Lightning Jar's Leadership Speaker Series. Previously, the organization hosted talks by Alchemist Brewery founder Jen Kimmich and serial entrepreneur Alan Newman, who has founded Gardener's Supply Company, Seventh Generation Inc., Magic Hat Brewing Company, and more.

"The United States has a long tradition of very strong daily reporting," said Galloway. "When that is weakened, it hurts democracy at large." She said that a readership that wants timely, accurate, and in-depth local reporting has largely been left lacking by a reduction in staff and resources in local newsrooms. "Digger is proof positive that people want real news," she said. "The problem is not with the readership, it is with the media."

"(Galloway's) style of investigative journalism is honest and fair-minded, and she has grown VTDigger.org into one of the most respected and trusted news outlets in the region," said The Lightning Jar in a release. "Her vast journalism experience gives her a valuable perspective on how social media and unscrupulous news outlets are changing the public discourse, and are threatening the role of journalism in our society. This is sure to be a fascinating talk by an experienced industry insider."

Lightning Jar director Dimitri Garder, who is also the founder of Global-Z International, said that in the two years since Lightning Jar was founded, it has evolved from alternative office space to a collaborative organization that also provides professional development opportunities, training, guest speakers, and more.

"We feel that we need a diversity of topics and content to keep our audience engaged," said Gardner, on inviting Galloway to speak. Membership in the group has been growing steadily, he said, up to about 50 people today, ranging from people who work full-time out of their collaborative office, located inside the Vermont State Employee Credit Union on North Street, to people who joined primarily to take advantage of their programming. The organization has also partnered with other groups, such as LEVER Inc. of North Adams, the Bennington County Industrial Corporation, and the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce. "By leveraging that network, we're able to offer more services than we otherwise would," said Gardner.

One recent collaboration with LEVER allowed Lightning Jar to put on an entrepreneurial workshop, which culminated in participants taking part in the FreshTracks Capital Road Pitch. Gardner said that several of the participants made it into the final round of pitches, and were among the best-received in the state.

"We want people to look at entrepreneurship as a career option," said Gardner, "and know there are resources out there to help."

Reach staff writer Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or @DerekCarsonBB


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