OSWEGO, New York — Diversity and equality was the focus of SUNY Oswego’s 2015 Media Summit. The panel discussion at the Media Summit proved to be more engaging than in the past as this year’s topic was relevant to both students and panelists, said Media Summit sponsor Louis Borrelli. During the panel discussion students were involved in the conversation. They asked the panelists questions and shared their experiences.
SUNY Oswego Media Summit panelist and alumna Michelle Garcia spoke to students on Wednesday. She advised them to continue to write, read, and experiment telling students to take advantage of the opportunities around them.
“Find experiences just by experimenting,” Garcia said.
As a former student at SUNY Oswego, Garcia shared her experiences here and the opportunities it opened up for her. She also enforced how important diversity is in the media. As a black and Hispanic female, she shared how important it is to be able to represent her ethnicity as well as helping spread more diversity in the media. Students had the chance to sit down one-on-one with her and discuss her views on seeing more Hispanics in the newsroom.
“We need more Latinos in the media, the whole point is diversity,” Garcia said.
The media needs to embrace the perspective of minority races, Garcia said. In order to make that change, she suggested to not be afraid to be strong and stand up for your beliefs.
A study conducted by Emily Guskin a research analyst at the Pew Research Center has shown the percentage of minorities in the newsroom hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years.
“In 1977, the first year of the ASNE census, minorities accounted for only four percent of newspaper newsroom workers. By 1994, the percentage of minority journalists had nearly tripled to 11 percent. eighteen years later, however, in 2002, that figured as only about one percentage point higher, at 12 percent,” Guskin said.
As journalists, we should not simply believe everything we are told through the media but rather make the decision to question everything and do further research, Michelle Garcia said.
Critical thinking forces young people to make informed decisions for themselves and is what has allowed for this years focus on diversity and equality in the media to be brought to the forefront of conversation.
If journalists make an effort to gain diverse interviews for everyday stories people will better understand each other, Garcia said.
The breakout session with Michelle Garcia brought up that lack of knowledge might be preventing journalists from writing stories about minority groups.
More journalists need to step out of their comfort zone and cover a more diverse range of stories and should always question everything, Garcia said.
“When you’re uncomfortable you’re just getting out of your comfort zone,” Dave Longley said.
In a pre-panel discussion, WSYR chief meteorologist Dave Longley met with a handful of meteorology and broadcasting students. Dave Longley is an Oswego native. He grew up in Oswego county and graduated from SUNY Oswego in 1994 with a degree in meteorology. The students Longley met with aspire to be broadcast meteorologists. The students gathered around the greenscreen in the WTOP-10 Studio to hear Longley talk about his career and give advice for their own careers.
Dave Longley is an example of diversity in the media because he suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). People suffering disabilities are underrepresented in the media.
“People with disabilities account for less than one percent of main roles in prime time television and news,” SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley said.
Longley is a member of that one percent and he doesn’t let his disability hold him back from doing what he loves.
“I get paid to have fun, I love forecasting,” Longley said.
MS is a lifelong condition, and in Longley’s case, his symptoms are getting worse.
“I may not be on TV five years from now, but I’m not giving up yet,” Longley said.
While Longley remains on the news he continues to represent disabled persons in the media.
News stories will often point out an individual’s minority features even when irrelevant to the story.
“My biggest pet peeve is when they point out the victim was black when it wasn’t a race crime because at no point do we ever point out the victim was white,” Kendis Gibson said.
“I think it’s important to have positive representations of stereotypes and not just negative after negative,” Jennifer Sanders said.
This is because minority representation in the media is sometimes biased, said Sanders. This is not necessarily intentional, but sometimes reporters don’t look for balance within the stories they are covering and the groups being covered.
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