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NKY filmmaker working on documentary, symposium about Cov Cath encounter at Lincoln Memorial

Special to NKyTribune

Northern Kentucky filmmaker Steve Oldfield is working on a documentary and academic symposium to address what journalists and news consumers can learn from the media mayhem surrounding the encounter between Covington Catholic students and other demonstrators at the Lincoln Memorial back in January.

“I woke up that Saturday morning to see my Facebook blowing up with all kinds of nasty comments from friends of mine around the country,” Oldfield said.

He immediately got to work defending the students and asking for his online friends to calm down until the whole story was available. Oldfield was so engrossed in the story and writing reactions to negative posts, he didn’t put down his cell phone and get out of bed until 11 a.m.

“I couldn’t believe how vicious people were – and many of my friends are experienced journalists and filmmakers I’ve known since we were in college,” said Oldfield, who graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

“By the next day, I knew I had to produce a documentary,” he said.

He decided on a title right away, “Rush to Judgment: Encounter at the Lincoln Memorial.”

Oldfield, who moderates the Northern Kentucky Youth Advisory Board for high school leaders, said he has been impressed with the Covington Catholic community.

“Their principal has created a very supportive culture and I’ve met lots of great teachers and students,” he said. Oldfield said he wants to dispel misconceptions about the school and Northern Kentucky.

“Some of my friends on the coasts immediately assumed these were a bunch of rednecks,” Oldfield said. “They couldn’t be more wrong about Covington Catholic.”

Oldfield has produced two documentaries that have aired on KET. Lines of Sight tells the story of Kentucky born painter Jim Hall. Oldfield co-directed Covington at 200: Points of View for the city’s bicentennial. He says he has plenty of material and stories to draw from.

“I got to know and love Covington over the year and a half we made that doc,” he said.

For Rush to Judgment, Oldfield plans to examine how many news organizations let themselves get caught up in a mob mentality online. Oldfield is interviewing journalists and media observers here in Greater Cincinnati and across the country.

He plans to take a more academic approach than some other projects because his video will also be used in his classes at Thomas More University, where Oldfield teaches Journalism and documentary courses in the Communication Dept.

“Several of the experts I’ve interviewed have agreed to join me on campus for an in-depth discussion with students and the community this Fall,” Oldfield said.

One of them, Julie Irwin Zimmerman, wrote an article called “I failed the Covington Catholic Test,” for The Atlantic. Zimmerman and Oldfield graduated from Northwestern the same year.

“She’s a great journalist who wasn’t afraid to admit that she rushed to judgment like a lot of people,” Oldfield said.

To learn more, go to www.RushToJudgmentDocumentary.com.

To see the trailer, go to https://vimeo.com/327583225

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