Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Power Behind Your Words

Courtney Smith |

The Power Behind Your Words
How to Cover Diversity in Journalism

A topic that arises more often than not in today's society is how to correctly approach diversity. This is an issue we are facing every day in the journalism world. Whether it's a harmful tweet, a racist interview comment or a commercial that rubs viewers the wrong way, there is a question of how to correctly approach diversity in our world. This question has quickly become a struggle in the media.

Portraying Diversity in the News

Remember back to the shooting of Michael Brown, a teenager living in Ferguson, Missouri, a northern suburb of St. Louis. Shortly after the unarmed teenager was shot down and killed by a white police officer, protests from all different groups and communities began to arise. Through these protests came a hashtag that trended on social media sites such as Twitter reading, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

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This started a viral media lesson and conversation stemming from the black community about how the media would hypothetically portray them in the news. Would they turn to stereotypes? Would they frame them as something they aren't? These are questions the black community wanted the media to consider.

Trust in the Media

As we have discussed in earlier lectures and learned through previous reading assignments, overall trust in the media is not at all what it used to be. Through false reporting and false information being given to the public, society is drawing back on how much they rely on mainstream media to deliver their news accurately.

While this issue has already been prevalent in our society as a whole, it is even more prevalent in the African-American and Hispanic communities. According to an article released by TVNewsCheck, a study released in 2014 showed statistics that troubled the news industry as the minority population in the United States continued to rise.

The study showed that members of these communities did not fully trust the media to deliver their news accurately due to doubts in mainstream reporting. This will continue to be an issue for journalists and media outlets as our country is quickly becoming more of a melting pot than ever before.

The Words of Journalists

A quote from an article published by the RTDNA reads, "As journalists, we know our words have power - the power to inform, the power to influence, the power to create fear, the power to heal... It's easy to take the power of those words for granted until you start seeing and feeling the harm of those words". This quote spoke to me as it's not often that we reflect on how powerful words really can be.

It's important for professionals in the industry to take a step back every so often and consider how the language they present in their work is affecting those that consume it. We, as journalists, possess powerful language and the ability to influence media consumers through our work. It's important that we learn how to properly utilize these tools for the betterment of society and the enrichment of all cultures.

The Role of Journalists

It is the duty of journalists to take responsibility for how they are covering not only race but diversity as a whole. It is not uncommon in today's world of media to be presented with stories that negatively reflect a certain race or group of diverse individuals. It will take the participation and effort of all members of the journalistic community to put a stop to this occurrence.

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