By Albert Burford | LSU Student
Bryan Monroe, editor of CNNPolitics.com, advocated in a speech Monday at Southern University, a news media coverage shift to increase fairer representation and coverage of African-Americans.
Monroe, who spent time working as a news executive at Knight-Ridder newspapers and editorial director and vice president of Ebony and Jet magazines, said he watched the local Monday morning news and noticed a discrepancy in how he saw African-Americans portrayed when compared to Caucasians.
African-Americans were wanted for crimes, arrested for shootings and cleaning up after the Saint Patrick's Day parade, noted Monroe, adding that the lone story in which African-Americans were shown in a positive light was the Southern basketball team qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
White people, on the other hand, were shown donating to a good cause, helping children get bicycles, participating in politics and partying on Saint Patrick's Day.
Monroe said he doesn't believe the stories were untrue or intentionally portrayed African-Americans in a bad light.
"Both sets of stories were, I'm sure, very accurate. But I can guarantee the folks making the decisions on what to air this morning did not notice the difference in the imagery that was given to the community."
One solution Monroe offered was ensuring that the news-gathering and news-decision staffs came from varying backgrounds in order to make sure no news stone goes unturned.
"So much of journalism is emotional. That's why having a diverse staff in the newsroom is so important — because different things and different people connect to different emotions," Monroe said.
An audience of Southern students studying mostly journalism and political science listened as a Monroe gave advice on how to find success while representing and covering a community. Monroe takes his talk to LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication today (Tuesday).
"The best stories come not from what you find on Wikipedia but from real people who tell you stuff they're not supposed to. And that's the good stuff. As students, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and meet people, talk to people, get out in the field and really learn about the community."
Monroe also detailed a career, in which he was the first person to interview Barack Obama after he won the 2008 presidential election and the last person to interview Michael Jackson before his death. He also helped direct news teams covering Hurricane Katrina for the Biloxi Sun Herald.