This Friday I attended the JMC media festival at CSU. The panel I attended was “Communities, Cultures, and Connections: Making Engaging Media.” It was moderated by Dr. Rosa Mikeal Martey (a CSU professor) and the panel was comprised of Cristal Silero-Dukes (a PR specialist), Ama Arthur-Asmah (a photojournalist), Izzy Abbass (a communications consultant), and Eugene Daniels (A digital content producer). A fifth speaker, Vanessa Nettingham, was unable to attend the panel.
The panel was largely informal, but it centered around how communicating with and creating content for different communities and cultures should be handled. The panel was racially diverse, and they were able to speak of personal experiences in their respective fields where either their own backgrounds were used to engage an audience, or when they had to engage audiences that were different from themselves.
I spoke to most of the speakers following the event, and even grabbed a couple of business cards. Though I don’t intend on working in Colorado after graduating, they all had unique and useful perspectives on how to handle covering different groups, whether they be divided by race, gender, sexuality, age, etc.
One thing that struck me about the panel is that it was racially diverse and had an even number of men and women, but the majority of the panelists were young, able, and presumably straight. They touched on diversity in age, ability, and sexuality, but they spent the majority of their time on the topic of race. Of course, this makes sense, as the panel was intended to be racially diverse, and finding a small panel that includes diversity in every regard is unrealistic.
The most important thing I learned is that you should do your research whenever you’re engaging a community different from your own. One of the speakers talked about how he was helping start a TV station in Hungary, and they were about to name the station something that sounded fine in English, but in Hungarian it sounded very similar to a Communist holiday – this, of course, would have been problematic, and they only had three weeks to change the name before the station launched.
There was also a focus on basic humanity when it comes to understanding different cultures and communities. “Humans are humans,” Eugene said. When it comes to journalism, everything is about telling stories, and the best way to tell any story is to focus on the human element in each story, regardless of race, gender, religion etc. Ultimately, we’re all the same, but our differences should still be embraced.