Last Thursday, the University of Connecticut Department of Journalism invited three professional journalists to speak on a panel titled “Confronting Racism in Journalism” in Wilbur Cross. The panelists were Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, essayist for “NBC Asian America” and a contributor to Public Radio International; Helen Ubinas, columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer; and Kevin Blackistone, columnist for The Washington Post and commentator on ESPN’s “Around the Horn.” The event was moderated by UConn Journalism professor Marie Shanahan.
All three panelists spoke on the lack of representation of minorities in the newsroom and how that can impact coverage. Blackistone used a very insightful example when talking about coverage of football: When Tom Brady is getting heated on the sidelines and yelling at coaches it’s because he’s passionate about winning. But when Cam Newton does the same thing it’s because he is a violent individual. Ubinas said that newspapers have the duty to cover racial issues all the time, not just when it was topical. Wang also noted the importance of not turning a story into a race-related issue just because racism was a hot topic at the moment. All of these issues can be mitigated if there are more minorities in newsrooms, which is especially crucial when discussing and covering dicey issues that should bring in multiple, diverse perspectives.
The main insight that all panelists shared was that news media organizations function at their best when they are as diverse as the communities they serve.
As UConn’s student newspaper, we wholeheartedly support this sentiment and believe that all news organizations should strive for a diverse newsroom that is representative of the constituents it serves. It is our job to cover and report on the stories that impact students and the community at large. We believe that we have done good work in covering these stories in the most unbiased ways possible and try our best to fairly represent the student body as a whole. While we pride ourselves on getting all sides and several perspectives for our content – especially for possibly controversial stories – we too strive to keep improving the diversity of our membership as an organization. Our content is produced by students, for students, and we want to make sure we’re representing the diversity of the student body in the best way possible, which means we need you and we need your feedback. So please consider this an open invitation to join us in our quest to keep striving to make The Daily Campus as diverse as the university it serves.
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