(Oct. 29, 2007) — Dr. Gordon E. “Mike” Michalson Jr., president of New College of Florida, will moderate and New College alumna Alexis Simendinger, White House correspondent for the magazine “National Journal,” will serve on a panel discussing “The Media’s Role in Our Democratic Society,” at the 10th annual Sarasota Reading Festival, Saturday, Nov. 3. Other panelists are Hank Klibanoff, managing editor of the “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation,” and Mike Connelly, executive editor of the “Sarasota Herald-Tribune.” The panel discussion, scheduled from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church, located at Pineapple Avenue and State Street in Sarasota, will be presented in partnership with the Florida Humanities Council through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Simendinger (at left), who earned a bachelor of arts degree at New College and a master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, joined the weekly, nonpartisan “National Journal” as White House correspondent in May 1997. Previously, she covered the White House for the Bureau of National Affairs, and reported in her native Washington, D.C., covering Capitol Hill and the final year of the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Simendinger wrote for The Tampa Tribune from 1983 to 1986. She also appears on PBS’ “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.” The Sarasota Reading Festival will be held Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota. Among participating authors are CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, actor Gene Wilder, novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford and Sarasota resident Stuart Kaminsky, who also will moderate a panel of mystery writers. Cookbook authors, including Earl Bubba Hiers and George Stella of The Food Network, will demonstrate their recipes in the Jack Geldbart Auditorium at Selby Library. In addition, more than 5,000 free books will be distributed to children and young adults under 18 before and during the festival, thanks to a grant from the Comcast Foundation. New College will have an information booth at Five Points, with giveaway items for children, and Cook Library will hold a book sale. Several New College faculty authors, including Meg Lowman, David Harvey and Jocelyn Van Tuyl, will be on hand at the festival with copies of their books. The Jane Bancroft Cook Library/New College Library Association is a beneficiary of the event along with Friends of Selby Public Library.