Panel highlights diverse Boston voices in media

Panelist+speak+at+Emerson%27s+%22Perspectives+on+Race+and+the+Boston+Media%22+on+March+26.+Hannah+Ebanks+%2F+Beacon+Correspondent+

Panelist speak at Emerson's "Perspectives on Race and the Boston Media" on March 26. Hannah Ebanks / Beacon Correspondent

The School of Communication hosted a panel featuring four Boston media professionals on Tuesday, March 26 as part of its new Diverse Voices in Communication initiative.

The public event was held in the Black Box Theatre and approximately 30 people attended, including employees of the WBZ-TV station and Emerson students. The panel attempted to elevate underrepresented voices in the Boston media community and provide a platform for the college to discuss issues of minority representation in the media, President M. Lee Pelton said in an interview.

“I hope that it will serve as a welcoming place for diverse voices, and expose our students and community members to this very important issue,” Pelton said. “And I hope that it will engage those students and community members to support and agitate and activate greater diversity in the media.”

The panel featured Johnny Greene, news director of WBZ, Anaridis Rodriguez ‘11, WBZ news reporter and anchor, Young Jin-Kim, social media editor for NBC-10 Boston and the president of the New England chapter of the Asian-American Journalists Association, and Meghan Irons ‘90, Boston Globe social justice reporter. Yadires Nova-Salcedo ‘93 moderated the panel.

Nova-Salcedo works as an affiliate professor of journalism and as the host of WBZ-TV’s news segment “Centro,” which covers issues important to the Latinx community.

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Janet Kolodzy, professor and chair of the journalism department, helped to co-coordinate the panel alongside Nova-Salcedo and Pelton.

“I consider this the first of what I hope will be regular, continual conversations we have in the community,” Kolodzy said during an interview. “More than anything this is going to be an exchange of ideas, of viewpoints, and insights—that to me is very Emersonian.”

Each member of the panel stressed the importance of hiring diverse decision-makers, such as directors, producers, and managers, in the media.

“The decision-makers have to, themselves, evolve,” Greene said during the panel. “We certainly have a long way to go.”

Journalism graduate student Kenya Hunter attended the event and asked the panel for their thoughts on the National Association of Black Journalists’ decision to put CNN on a “special media monitoring list” due to the network’s lack of black representation in its newsroom executives.

“Marginalized people need to be in the background of news,” Hunter said in an interview. “The most important part of news is not the people who are on-air, but the people that are doing all the behind-the-scenes work, like the producing—deciding what stories are going to be told.”

Rodriguez, one of the panelists, similarly criticized the lack of diverse voices in leadership positions in the media, and cited it as the reason diverse stories are not widely told.

“Who’s making those decisions when it comes to who tells the story and curating culture?” Rodriguez rhetorically asked the audience during the panel.

After the event, Rodriguez expressed the difficulties she faced when she entered the media industry as a Latina woman, such as being asked to change her name. 

“I said no, this is who I am, take me as I am,” Rodriguez said in an interview “I have a lot to offer. I hope that’s what people take away, is to be confident in being themselves and know that that’s valuable.”