UA Professor Featured in Journalism on Screen Series
“Witnesses to Democracy,” the 20th film in the UA's Journalism on Screen series, examines the pro-democracy movement in South Korea through the eyes of UA journalism professor Kim Newton and the mother of a slain student protester.

By Mike Chesnick, UA School of Journalism
March 15, 2019


Journalism professor Kim Newton was a photojournalist based in South Korea when he snapped this photo of student protesters in 1987. That experience led to his participation in the documentary film "Witness to Democracy."
Journalism professor Kim Newton was a photojournalist based in South Korea when he snapped this photo of student protesters in 1987. That experience led to his participation in the documentary film "Witness to Democracy."

Journalism on Screen, the University of Arizona School of Journalism’s series that uses movies to explore the challenges and perils facing journalists everywhere, will host its 20th movie and post-film discussion at Tucson’s Loft Cinema.

“Witnesses to Democracy,” a documentary that examines the pro-democracy movement in South Korea, will be shown Saturday, March 17, at 2 p.m., followed by a post-film discussion on stage with journalism professor Kim Newton, who was a photojournalist based in Asia at the time of the 1987 uprising. Man-jin Kim, the film’s director, and UA East Asian studies professors Sunyoung Yang and Nathaniel Smith also will be on stage.

Newton is featured prominently in the film, which also follows the mother of slain student protester Lee Han-yeol, whose death propelled the uprising. In June 2017, Newton delivered a framed copy of his iconic image of student protesters holding up a photo of Han-yeol to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

“Although we’re living in the age of Marvel superhero movies, hard-working journalists are the real superheroes, and should be celebrated as such,” said Jeff Yanc, program director at The Loft Cinema, which co-sponsors the series with the School of Journalism and others. “Without them, we're all in danger, and if that doesn't warrant a superhero franchise, I don’t know what does.”

The series was launched in fall 2015 by Professors Nancy Sharkey and William Schmidt, who were longtime journalists at The New York Times before joining the J-school faculty. The Sunday screenings have averaged close to 200 viewers, with several selling out.

Journalism on Screen’s fourth season will conclude April 14 with the 2 p.m. screening of “State of Play” as part of a program marking the 10th anniversary of the closing of the Tucson Citizen, the city’s longtime afternoon paper. A panel of former Citizen reporters and editors, including Jennifer Boice (moderator), Corky Simpson, Steve Rivera, Gabrielle Fimbres, Chuck Graham and Dylan Smith, will talk about the film starring Russell Crowe and Rachael McAdams and what it means to a community when it loses one of its daily newspapers.

Since the first film — “Absence of Malice” in September 2015 — Journalism on Screen has brought 20 journalists, authors and First Amendment lawyers to the Loft Cinema's stage. The speakers also visit UA classrooms in the School of Journalism and the School of Law to answer questions from students and lead discussion groups.

“These nationally known journalists inspire our students, motivate them to become watchdogs on democracy and impress them with the impact that good journalism can have,” Sharkey said. “Films like 'Spotlight,' 'Citizenfour' and 'Good Night, and Good Luck' make them proud to be entering the journalistic fraternity.”

Journalism on Screen is co-sponsored by The New York Times, the Arizona Daily Star, the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Arizona Daily Wildcat/UA-TV3 and the Arizona Inn, the local landmark that contributes lodging for guest speakers. The Center for Border and Global Journalism and the UA Department of East Asian Studies also are sponsoring “Witnesses to Democracy.”

Schmidt said the program is especially important now. At a time when some view the press as villains and enemies of the people, movies about journalism “provide critical common ground and context, reminding us by example and by story that journalists and journalism have an essential role to play in holding the government accountable and safeguarding our democratic norms,” Schmidt said. 

“How else can we separate truth from rumor in a more perilous world?” he asked.

Extra info


Journalism on Screen


The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway

March 17, 2 p.m.: “Witnesses to Democracy”
Purchase tickets through the Loft Cinema website

April 14, 2 p.m.: “State of Play”
Purchase tickets through the Loft Cinema website

Watch post-film discussions from prior Journalism on Screen events at