Reporting while Black brings both responsibilities and challenges
The movement to create greater representation for Black people has brought up deep concerns over not only their portrayal in the news, but also how they operate as journalists in the field. Some Black students, including black journalism students at the University of Central Oklahoma see several ways in which coverage and related work experiences can be improved.
Destini Pittman, a professional media major at UCO, said she believes that being a Black journalist means giving a voice to the often voiceless, providing a unique perspective and showcase more diversity.
“I feel like Black journalists have been providing a unique viewpoint in the field. For most of history, we were not allowed in the newsrooms. Now we are and we can add a cultural component that wasn’t there before,” Pittman said. “My personal hopes are to include diversity in my work. I want to go into editorial and fashion photography… I feel like most models used are white or fair-skinned. I want to change that. I want all skin tones represented in my work.”
Sydnie Woodfork, a future journalist and student at UCO, said she found herself feeling tired of the pressure of being the minority, especially when not many people share related experiences. Despite this, she understood the magnitude of untrue history and the opportunity that she must put her voice out there.
“I believe that representation matters,” Woodfork said. “I want to see more people who look like me reporting matters of the truth and combating stories that depict those in the black community as criminals.”
As young black journalists find their way in the world, they want to amplify voices that need to be heard objectively. It’s the job of the journalist to constantly look for stories that are not being told. Also, it is crucial to cover all sides of an issue, understand the history of the issues in the story and personally engage with the people being covered.
UCO student Tyson Meek said that he comes across news that is racially problematic about Black people, either because it’s racist or racially insensitive. He mentions how effective four potential solutions would be in making coverage fairer.
“Personally, I believe that educating all journalists about issues facing Black people, as well as three options would focus specifically on the role of Black people. For instance, including more Black people as sources in stories, hiring more Black journalists, and hiring more Black people
in newsroom leadership roles. I mean, the more you truly diversify the newsroom, the more diverse your perspective and talent.”