by Romy Zipken
The second event of the “We are Takoma” speaker series featured journalists Clarence Page and Naftali Bendavid sharing their points of view about the current state of the country.
Page, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, endeared the audience with his insight about the content of President Obama’s recent State of the Union. He let the crowd know that before his days as a newspaperman he wanted to be an astronaut, but when he encountered high school calculus and physics, journalism seemed “like a great career.”
Bendavid, who covers Congress and politics for the Wall Street Journal, credited the current party with high achievements at pushing through legislation, but forecast that very little will get done during the next two years.
“The parties are much closer to parity,” Bendavid said, referring to the lack of bipartisanship in Congress.
The audience in the Takoma Park auditorium, asked intelligent and challenging questions during the question and answer segment of the evening.
The event deserved more publicity, according to Sharon Levy, former
Takoma Park city council member, who thought the discussion was
Angela Kurtz, co-chair of the Takoma Park Arts and Humanities
commission, organized the event to bring some writers to the Community
Center, rather than the visual and performance artists that are usually
the center of events.
“I’m a writer and I thought this would be an opportunity to contribute
something from my own background that the town might enjoy,” said Kurtz.
Page and Bendavid both live in Takoma Park with their families. They
spoke at the event without compensation, and were happy to do it, Kurtz
“There is such a high number of highly educated, talented people in
Takoma park, so I thought they would be a wonderful source of talent for
a speaker series and I thought they would make a fantastic audience for
the speakers themselves,” said Kurtz.
Page and Bendavid concluded their discussion with their views on the
future of journalism. Despite the bleak projections for newspapers, the
two speakers were confident that journalism would live on in some form
because people will always love the news.
“I though both speakers were very eloquent,” said Jennifer
Uriguen-Beckett, who works at the Takoma Park TV station, but spent six
months looking jobs before getting hired. “I liked how Clarence spoke
about younger people at the end. That hit home for me.”
Sebastian Medina-Tayac, 16, soon to be editor-in-chief of Blair High
School’s Silver Chips newspaper, was at the event to hear from people
who analyze news firsthand.
“This is a really intimate location,” said Medina-Tayac. “You don’t
really get the full experience from the TV screen of people like this.
Seeing the whole community here made it really great. Little did I know
that my little hometown of Takoma Park had all of this to offer.”
The next “We are Takoma” speaker series event will be on March 10 at
7:30 p.m. and will host a discussion with directors Simone Fary &
Richard Hall and a screening of their film, “American Feud: A History of
Conservatives and Liberals.”