Eric Persons on Central Current and Local Journalism

Join the Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library for an evening with Central Current, Inc. co-founder, Eric Persons. Central Current is a new nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent digital news agency based in Syracuse. Eric will discuss the Central Current project and the role of local journalism in creating an informed and engaged citizenry. A brief Q&A will follow.

This event will be held on Thursday, October 14th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Eric Persons

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Eric is supporting Central Current, Inc. because of journalism’s renewed focus on citizenship and community engagement. As a broadcast journalist, he witnessed violent crime, economic failure, and a decline in social capital, and he became frustrated that his work had little impact in helping his hometown of Buffalo, NY address those conditions. Now, local news can no longer survive and thrive without having a strong, responsive relationship with its audience. He believes that online journalism provides opportunities for innovation and creative storytelling that can strengthen an understanding of issues, create engaged citizens, while also preserving journalistic objectivity and integrity.

Eric stepped into a newsroom over 30 years ago with interest in covering sports, local news and politics. As a television photojournalist, he covered breaking news overnight while spending his days covering the NFL, NHL and college sports. His news stories involved countless homicides, weather events and car accidents while also contributing to stories on local government, the economy and cultural events. In 1996, his coverage of a suspect’s death in police custody contributed to an investigation and homicide charges filed against a Buffalo police lieutenant.

In 1997, he traveled overseas to learn more about the political, economic, and social changes occurring in Central and Eastern Europe. The experience turned into a career developing programs in higher education and public affairs. He directed university programs on political and economic reform in Washington, DC, the Czech Republic and Greece until arriving at Syracuse University in 2002. He has been a resident of Central New York ever since, where he has developed community initiatives involving urban planning and design, public health and economic development. He also represented Syracuse University at the local, state and federal levels of government, and has been an advocate for innovation and community engagement in higher education.

About Central Current

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Mission: Strengthen Civic Engagement and Democratic Governance

Central Current, Inc. is working to launch a nonprofit digital news publication that will provide balanced, fact-based news, opinion and analysis about the issues, events and happenings that impact life in Central New York. At a time when commercial interests and political interference are limiting quality journalism, we strive to fulfill a need for independent news with thorough and investigative coverage of issues to help residents be well-informed citizens. Our objective is to strengthen civic engagement and democratic governance, and to foster a prosperous and healthy community.

As a digital multimedia news organization, Central Current, Inc. will take an entrepreneurial approach to online journalism that redefines the relationship between news media and its audience. We will publish quality journalism and produce meaningful stories through writing, video, photography and other forms of media. As a mission‐centered nonprofit organization, we are exclusively focused on serving and engaging the community to enhance civic dialogue and understanding of issues. We will uphold the highest standards of journalistic integrity and creative storytelling while ensuring news coverage reflects the needs and diversity of the region.

Our motivation is our love for Central New York, but knowing we can do better. Our region is an attractive place to live and raise a family. But we also have one of the highest rates of poverty and racial segregation in the country. And while having a strong industrial heritage with dynamic anchors in higher education and health care, we struggle to drive investment and growth in our economy. It is necessary more than ever to have a better understanding of the issues that impact our entire community and resolve any disconnect we have to realizing a better future.

We are also driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that is rooted our region’s diversity and talent. The people we employ and others who support our work will be more than representative of our community; they also will have an ownership in our enterprise. Our work culture will be defined by a collaborative group of individuals and partners from different backgrounds, experiences and skill sets who are willing to try new approaches and learn from each other and from the community we serve.

We strive to be a reliable and trusted resource for journalism and to set the standards for integrity and creativity that other news organizations will want to replicate. Our content will be free and accessible to everyone, and we will offer programs and events to foster dialogue on the issues we cover.

At a time of great transformation in journalism and digital media, we are well positioned in Central New York to make the most of that opportunity. We are rich in talent, and have a young and entrepreneurial generation of professionals living in Central New York who want to make an impact in their community. Our journalists will include writers, photographers and great storytellers, all of whom will be committed to quality standards and practices to advance their craft.

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Sean Kirst “Sells-Out” the Strathmore Speaker Series

Beloved Syracuse-area writer and journalist Sean Kirst presented to a standing-room-only crowd at the Onondaga Park Firebarn on Sunday, October 18th. Kirst, who recently announced his departure from the Post-Standard/Syracuse Media Group after 27 years of storytelling, addressed topics ranging from how he fell in love with Syracuse and the Strathmore neighborhood, to why he’s a Mets fan, and Roger Clinton’s love of “eatin.” He also discussed why he’s leaving the paper and what he plans to do next. A full audio file of Kirst’s presentation can be found here, while Time Warner Channel 10’s coverage of the event can be found here.

At the conclusion of the event, the Strathmore Speaker Series and the Greater Strathmore Neighborhood Association presented Kirst with a token of appreciation on behalf of the Strathmore community. The photograph of a “Sunrise Over Onondaga Park,” was taken by long-time neighborhood resident and avid photographer, Vincent Miller, whose work can frequently be seen in the Strathmore Neighborhood Facebook group and on his own Facebook profile.

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Photo by Vincent Miller.

Sean Kirst on “Syracuse: What I loved, why I stayed, what still drives me wild”

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Writer and long-time Strathmore resident, Sean Kirst, will speak on Syracuse: What I loved, why I stayed, what still drives me wild at the Firebarn at 2 pm, Sunday, October 18th, 2015. The event is free and open to the public.

Since receiving his first paycheck as a journalist more than 38 years ago, Sean Kirst has built his writing career on his passion for the cities and countryside of Upstate New York. Before coming to Syracuse, Kirst worked for newspapers in Rochester, Niagara Falls, and his hometown, Dunkirk, New York. Kirst joined The Post-Standard/Syracuse Media Group as a writer in 1988 and became a columnist in 1991. Today his work focuses primarily on civic issues – often starting at the neighborhood level – involving struggle, hope and passage, the themes that dominate our Upstate lives.


Photo from Newshouse.

In 2009, Kirst became the first Upstate journalist to win the Ernie Pyle Award for human interest writing, presented annually to the one journalist nationally who best personifies the approach and ethic of Pyle, the renowned World War II correspondent. In 2010, Kirst received both the national Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in column writing and the national Capitol Beat award for commentary, for his columns on state government in Albany. He has won two national Clarion Awards for opinion writing. Kirst has also been recognized by the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors for his interactive involvement with readers, through his blog, and he has been honored by the U.S. Justice Department for sensitivity to victims of violent crime. In 2014, the Syracuse Press Club added his name to its Wall of Distinction.

Kirst is also the author of “The Ashes of Lou Gehrig,” a collection of baseball essays, and co-author of “Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd,” the autobiography of basketball Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd, who in 1950 became the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association. The England-based Tolkien Society credits Kirst with proposing the worldwide Tolkien Reading Day that is now held every March, a celebration that always includes a gathering in Central New York.

Born in 1959, Kirst lives in Syracuse with his wife, Nora, a kindergarten teacher in the Syracuse city schools. They have three children: Sarah, Seamus and Liam.

Announcing the Strathmore Speakers Series’ Fall 2015 Lineup

SSS Fall 2015

The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce its Fall 2015 lineup. The season will kickoff on Sunday, September 20th at 2 pm with a presentation by author and Onondaga County Court Judge Joe Fahey on his latest book James K. McGuire, Boy Mayor and Irish Nationalist. Our second event of the season will feature a presentation by columnist Sean Kirst on Sunday, October 18th at 2 pm. Social policy expert and candidate for Onondaga County Legislature’s 15th district Tim Rudd will conclude our season with a presentation on exciting new developments in social policy and their applicability to communities like Syracuse on Thursday, November 19th at 7 pm.

All events are held in the Onondaga Park Firebarn and are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!