The Providence Journal, R.I. Public Radio, URI to present gubernatorial, senatorial forums

Events set for Oct. 15, 20 at URI’s Edwards Hall

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I. — Oct. 5, 2018 — Rhode Island Public Radio, The Providence Journal and the University of Rhode Island will hold two debates for the candidates for Rhode Island governor and the U.S. Senate.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the Republican candidate, William Gilbert of the Moderate Party, and independent Joe Trillo, former deputy minority leader of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, will answer questions from a panel of journalists Monday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. in Edwards Hall, 64 Upper College Road on URI’s Kingston Campus.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the incumbent Democrat, and Robert G. Flanders Jr., the Republican challenger, will answer questions at a debate Saturday, Oct. 20, at 6 p.m., also in Edwards Hall.

The forums, which are open to the public, are sponsored by The Providence Journal, Rhode Island Public Radio and the University. The radio station will air both forums live. The Journal, RIPR and URI will stream them live online. Find the URI stream at

Ian Donnis, Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter, Lianna Blakeman, a senior at the University and editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Good Five Cent Cigar, and Providence Journal State House reporter Patrick Anderson, will question the gubernatorial candidates. Donnis will join Providence Journal Managing Editor Michael McDermott and Good Five Cent Cigar News Editor Julia Moro for the senatorial debate.

“This historic partnership between the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Public Radio and The Providence Journal will bring candidates together on a debate stage to discuss some of the toughest issues facing our communities,” said Elisabeth Harrison, RIPR managing editor and news director.

“A debate is one of the best ways to inform the public about where candidates for high office stand on the issues,” said Alan Rosenberg, The Journal’s executive editor. “We’re glad to be able to team with URI and Rhode Island Public Radio to bring the candidates for governor and senator to these forums.”

“I hope that by having this at the University of Rhode Island, more URI students will be inspired to participate not just at the debate but further along in the election season and become active participants in local politics,” Blakeman said.

The senior double major in writing and rhetoric and English has worked at the Cigar since 2016, serving as a reporter and news editor. As editor-in-chief, she oversees a staff of more than 15 reporters, photographers and designers and manages a $900,000 annual budget.

In addition, she has been an editorial intern at Columbia Books in Dublin, Ireland, and an intern at Quarto Group Publishing in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Blakeman previously served as a contributing editor for Ether (Bound) Literary Magazine at URI and currently serves as an office assistant in URI’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

Donnis has been the political reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio since 2009. The Washington Post has called him one of Rhode Island’s best political reporters. Besides reporting, Donnis hosts the station’s weekly “Political Roundtable,” and contributes to the station’s On Politics blog.

He was a regular panelist on WPRI/WNAC-TV’s “Newsmakers” for many years, is an occasional guest on RI-PBS’ “A Lively Experiment” and has been a political debate panelist for each of Rhode Island’s three commercial television stations.

Donnis previously worked for the Providence Phoenix, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and The Associated Press. His reporting has been recognized by the AP, the New England Press Association, the Rhode Island Press Association and Rhode Island for Community & Justice.

Anderson joined The Journal in 2014 and the newspaper’s statehouse bureau in 2016. He is an alumnus of New York University, and worked at The Gloucester (Mass.) Daily Times, The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro and Providence Business News.

McDermott has worked at The Providence Journal for 15 years, and has been managing editor for the past year and a half. Previously, he had been the sports editor, an online producer and a copy editor. Before coming to The Journal he worked as a reporter and copy editor at The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, and lives in Warwick with his wife, Christine, and their two children.

Moro is a URI sophomore double majoring in journalism and political science, who has worked for The Good Five Cent Cigar since her first semester at URI and was elected news editor as a rising sophomore. The Long Island, New York resident recently, interned at a newspaper in Queens, New York, from which she was able to be published in The New York Post. She hopes to secure a position in the field of journalism when she graduates.

The University and Rhode Island Public Radio have a longstanding history of collaboration in presenting open discussions on topics of public interest, including the Block Island wind turbine project and the state of education in Rhode Island.