Middlebury College conference to look at how news frames minorities

MIDDLEBURY — The media plays a powerful role in shaping and reflecting societal attitudes and opinions toward minority groups. Coverage of minorities in recent high-profile events has invigorated public scrutiny of how minority groups are framed in the news.
Scholars, journalists and students will examine this topic this Thursday and Friday at Middlebury College’s conference “Media & Minorities in the West: Revealing Trends & Biases.” Hosted by the college’s Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, this conference is organized by Hasher Nisar ’16.5, along with RCGA program and outreach fellow, Aviva Shwayder ’16.
“It is undeniable that the news influences public opinion and policy; therefore, it is imperative to understand how media coverage affects perception of minorities in relation to events such as the American presidential campaign, Black Lives Matter protests, November Paris attacks, Syrian refugee crisis, Brexit vote, etc.,” said Shwayder.
Nisar explained that “this conference offers an opportunity to analyze how the media influences our perceptions of minority groups through framing, and to raise awareness of biases in news coverage.”
Four sessions will investigate media coverage of minorities at an international, national and local level.
The first session, “A Transatlantic Perspective: Media Portrayals of Minorities,” will feature discussion of how immigrants and religious minorities are portrayed in the media across the U.S. and Europe. Featured will be Rodney Benson, professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, and Erik Bleich, professor of political science at Middlebury College.
At the second panel, “A North American Perspective: Racial Politics in the Media,” Erin Tolley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, and Bertram Johnson, professor of political science at Middlebury College, will explore how racial politics are depicted in the media in the U.S. and Canada.
Three Vermont journalists — Gaen Murphree of the Addison Independent, Adam Federman of VTDigger.org, and Jess Aloe of the Burlington Free Press — will discuss how Vermont news coverage portrays minorities, such as refugees and migrant workers, and influences policymaking.
In the final panel, “A Campus Perspective: Objectivity, Op-Eds, & Freedom of the Press,” three Middlebury College student journalists will tackle the issues related to on-campus media coverage of race and racism and the challenges of enabling all voices to be heard. Featured will be Claire Abbadi ’16, previous editor-in-chief of The Campus newspaper; Brandi Fullwood ’17, editor of Middbeat.org; and Ellie Reinhardt ’17, current editor-in-chief of The Campus.
All events will take place at the Robert A. Jones House ’59 House Conference Room at 148 Hillcrest Road. Additional parking is located at the Mahaney Center for the Arts, as well as on College Street and Old Chapel Road.
If you have further questions, feel free to contact Aviva Shwayder ’16 at 802-443-5652 or [email protected].

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