“I remember August 9th like it was 10 seconds ago,” St. Louis reporter Kenya Vaughn said to a Washington, D.C., audience yesterday. “I was going about my everyday business of social media-watching…and I saw a man holding a sign on Instagram that said, ‘The Ferguson police department just murdered my unarmed son.’ And I was like, ‘Ferguson, Ferguson!? Down the street, Ferguson!? Is this real?’” With that Vaughn sets the frame (11:00) for a truly excellent two-hour panel filmed at the National Press Club by C-Span on how news media covers race following the killings of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. The accounting comes at a time when #blacklivesmatter protests make race and racism a topical, mainstream conversation even as newsrooms have long been criticized for not hiring nor depicting diverse sources and talk-show guests. “Media can not cover race when it is unwilling to look at its own shops,” panelist Roland Martin says (32:26).
In addition to Kenya Vaughn, web editor at The St. Louis American and Roland Martin, host of NewsOne Now, panelists include: Paul Farhi, media reporter, The Washington Post; April Ryan, White House correspondent, Urban Radio Networks; Jeff Johnson, journalist, formerly* BET News; Athena Jones, general assignment reporter, CNN; and Gilbert Bailon, editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The panel is wide-ranging and worth the listen. How well does news media cover race or racism in your town?
* Post has been updated since publication to reflect Johnson’s affiliation.