Be the Facts You Wish to Read: A Press Freedom Discussion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 6:00pm
Open Book
Target Performance Hall, 2nd Floor
1011 South Washington Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55415
United States


Since Inauguration Day in January 2017, PEN America has recorded more than one hundred specific threats to press freedom—from journalist arrests to violence against members of the press to the president's attacks on fact-based reporting. Alarm bells are ringing about polarization and erosion of confidence in the media and the truth. We need to do more to protect and reinforce the press as a crucial foundation for our democracy.

If press freedom is to survive intact in America, it will be because citizens rise up to demand and defend it.

This panel will focus on censorship, news literacy, and fact checking, as well as how community members can speak up for press freedom and engage in productive dialogue. Featuring local artists and journalists Sheila Regan and Sun Yung Shin along with PEN Members Shannon Gibney, Caroline Casey, and Marya Hornbacher, moderated by Joanna R. Demkiewicz (The Riveter). 

Presented in partnership by PEN America, Milkweed Editions, and The Riveter. Made possible by PEN America’s Press Freedom Incentive Fund, which was designed to support activities that engage and stimulate press freedom advocacy. For more information on the Press Freedom Incentive Fund, visit:


신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in the Chicago area. She is the editor of A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, author of poetry/essay collections Unbearable Splendor (winner of a Minnesota Book Award); Rough, and Savage; and Skirt Full of Black (winner of an Asian American Literary Award), co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, and author of bilingual illustrated book for children Cooper’s Lesson. She lives in Minneapolis.   

Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of See No Color (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a young adult novel that won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Young Peoples' Literature. Gibney is faculty in English at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where she teaches critical and creative writing, journalism, and African Diasporic topics. A Bush Artist and McKnight Writing Fellow, her next novel, Dream Country, is about more than five generations of an African descended family, crisscrossing the Atlantic both voluntarily and involuntarily (Dutton, 2018).

Sheila Regan is a performer, playwright and journalist living in the Twin Cities. As a writer, she works most often with MN Artists, City Pages and TC Daily Planet and also contributes to, Classical MPR, Minnesota Women's Press and Hyperallergic. As a performer, she is a member of Nightpath Theatre Company and has worked with numerous local companies, besides doing her own independent work. She also teaches theater for young people through Stages Theatre Company and In the Company of Kids, and portrays individuals with mental illness for trainings with the Barbara Schneider Foundation. She has a BA in Theatre from Macalester College and an MFA. in acting from Indiana University.

Marya Hornbacher is an award-winning essayist, journalist, and the New York Times bestselling author of five books. Hornbacher’s work has been published in eighteen languages, and her writing across genres appears regularly in literary and journalistic publications around the world, most recently in AGNIGulf Coast, The Normal School, Fourth Genre, DIAGRAM, Broad Street, and The Bellingham Review. Her sixth book, a work of long-form journalism, will be published in 2018, and her seventh, a collection of essays, is underway. She was recently honored with the Annie Dillard Award in Creative Nonfiction. Find out more about her work at

Caroline Casey is Managing Director at Coffee House Press. She has a background in marketing, publicity, and acquisitions, including stints at Sarabande Books and Stanford University Press, and holds an MFA from the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Moderator: Joanna R. Demkiewicz is a co-founder and the editorial director of The Riveter, a women's long-form lifestyle magazine both online and in print, as well as the publicist at Milkweed Editions, an independent nonprofit publisher. She received her Bachelors in Journalism from the University of Missouri Journalism School in 2013, where she studied Magazine Writing and Gender Studies. She lives in Minneapolis.