School of Communication and Multimedia Studies host conversation on media coverage of race

The event had 86 virtual attendants including students, faculty, and professionals.

Rick+Christie%2C+Editor+of+the+Editorial+page+for+the+Palm+Beach+Post%2C+was+one+of+the+four+guests+on+the+panel.+Photo+taken+in+Sept.+of+2017.+

Rick Christie, Editor of the Editorial page for the Palm Beach Post, was one of the four guests on the panel. Photo taken in Sept. of 2017.

Richard Pereira, Staff Writer

FAU’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies hosted a conversation called “Eye on the Media in an Era of Protest: What Needs to Change about the Way We Cover Race?” on June 23 via Zoom.

Dr. Carol Bishop Mills, director of the school, participated to see what the School of Communication and Multimedia studies can do to support and empower the next generation of journalists who will be shaping the future of reporting.

Dr. Deandre Poole, a senior instructor of the school, and professor Ilene Prusher moderated the panel, including guest panelists Nancy Ancrum of the Miami Herald, Rick Christie of the Palm Beach Post, Astead Herndon of the New York Times, and Terence W. Shepard of WLRN News.

Student moderators involved editors of the University Press and Paradigm Press as well.

“Recent events have made it clear that as educators we need to be more actively anti-racist and be proactive in helping break down the barriers of institutional racism that may limit our minority students’ full potential,” Mills said. “I hope that we can more actively engage in conversations about how to prepare our students for their futures, and connect them with role models and pioneers who can impart wisdom and provide guidance.”

Michael J. Horswell, Dean of Arts and Letters, also participated in the conversation explaining several important changes that need to be made.

“First, media companies need to diversify their middle and upper management who make the editorial decisions on what stories run and with what content. Second, reporters must ensure that their sources on any story they write represent a broad cross-section of our society. Third, it is important for citizens to read widely and not settle into a routine of obtaining news and analysis from one singular media outlet,” Horswell said.

Mills questioned if journalists need to consider the extent to which objectivity is the pinnacle of journalism, or if the pretense of objectivity has the potential to obscure issues of fairness and representation.

“It was also important to consider how “bias” seems to be applied to Black journalists covering stories involving minority issues, but that those same issues are not raised when white journalists cover stories of any kind,” Mills said. “This is not just racism, but makes the possibility of fairness even more elusive.”

Horswell understood that Black journalists have to fight institutional racism in their industry while also doing the work of investigating and exposing that same pernicious discrimination in the wider society that they cover.

With the way the media covers race, Mills added it is easy to say “Black Lives Matter,” but that we need to start finding ways to show that we believe it and that we are here to support and elevate the voices of Black students.

“They need to feel safe enough to tell us what they need in order to succeed and how we can provide more opportunities for growth within and beyond the classroom,” Mills said.

Horswell believes that to have a thriving democracy, journalism is the most important element.

“Without reporters at the local and national levels digging into the truth on issues pertaining to our nation, like systemic racism, we cannot have an effective government by the people and for all of the people,” he concluded.

The full discussion can be found here.

Richard Pereira is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Richard042601.