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WVU Reed College of Media hosts panel on diversity


The Daily Athenaeum

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The WVU Reed College of Media moderated a panel on diversity in the media featuring four panelists from diverse backgrounds in print and broadcast journalism on Tuesday.

A panel of journalists speaks Tuesday on the topic of diversity in media today.
(Daily Athenaeum photo by Colin Tracy)

Mizell Stewart III, vice president of news operations at Gennett and USA Today Network, started in journalism 30 years ago during a time where there was a push for the industry to diversify newsrooms.

“The reason that diversity was important then in newsrooms and is still important now is because our country is becoming more and more diverse,” Stewart said.

Stewart said it is easy for anyone now to create a universe of their own creation with the help of technology.

“If you don’t like media coming from POLITICO or USA Today, you can whip up a website and create your own,” Stewart said.

Stewart touched on the topic of the decline in trust in journalism and how journalists are working to engage the audiences and rebuild that trust.

“When you have the ability through social media to pick and choose news from [a] wide variety of news sources and not all of which are equally creditable,” Stewart said, “it’s very easy to see the challenges practicing journalists face in trying to shift truth from those who would try to influence the news one way or another.”

Sudeep Reddy, managing editor at POLITICO, said the ability to take control of information and share it publicly and widely changes everything journalists do.

“The fact that we [have] these [cell phones] that are transforming how we consume media, how we engage with the world around us, is forcing us as more mainstream publishers to rethink what we’re covering and how we’re covering it,” Reddy said.

Reddy said there was a point 15 years ago where mainstream media was the voice in the community, but now there are millions of voices that are being expressed all at the same time.

“It really puts it [pressure] on us to think differently about what are the voices coming across, how they are coming across and how we are using our special position as the press to go out and amplify those voices in a different way,” Reddy said.

Malena Cunningham Anderson, founder of Newslady Productions and former TV anchor for NBC 13, said she started in public relations and ended up in television news.

Anderson said when she grew up in the 1960s everyone had to not only wait for the news, but everyone looked the same.

“I never thought that I would have an opportunity to have a career in television news because I never saw a woman and I never saw an African American,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that when there is only one voice, too many people get left out.

“My concern now though is how many women are actually being journalists and how many minorities are actually being real journalists on the air and not trying to be celebrities in this age of social media,” Anderson said.

Anderson said students shouldn’t be afraid to be different and should speak up on topics important to them.

Justin Neal, media critic, intern and co-coordinator for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said he is a big cheerleader for journalism.

Neal has been in journalism for 25 years and has noticed two areas where journalists have shot themselves in the foot as a professional.

“The one that’s been addressed is journalism’s slow adaptation to digital. The other area that we haven’t done nearly as good a job at is diversity,” Neal said.

Neal said the diversity conversation has been going on for as long as he’s been in the profession.

“Those conversations went by the wayside when we reached economic problems and because people felt that diversity was the right thing to do,” Neal said.

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