Here is an interesting post at NashvilleScene.com, making the case for diversity and more responsibility in journalism in the Tennnessean Newspaper. The post specifically cites the coverage disparities in the Tennessean between the University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University, institutions which both received unfavorable state audits over recent months, but resulted in TSU receiving coverage about loss of accreditation. From the post:
I’m not interested in the particulars, in part, because I really feel like I am not qualified to speak about issues of accounting and auditing. Maybe TSU and UT have the same issues, covered in different ways, maybe not. I don’t know.
I do know a little something about human nature, though.
So I just want to say this. The population of Nashville is roughly 30 percent black. None of the newsrooms in town are anywhere near 30 percent black. I can’t think of a newsroom that’s even pushing 10 percent (with the obvious exception of the Tennessee Tribune). The Scene stands at zero. And as long as that’s the case, I doubt we’ll see predominately black institutions treated as ordinary. It will either be feast or famine, crisis or exceptional wonderfulness.
Not only does the Tennessean face a glaring disparity in its coverage of TSU, but most of the state’s traditional and large news sources must own up to the blaring omission of coverage for schools like Fisk, Knoxville, LeMoyne-Owen, Meharry and Lane. Each of these institutions are making significant strides socially and academically, and when they misstep, are deserving of responsible, critical coverage instead of no public account at all.
So what can HBCU’s and their constituents do to offset the white-out of HBCU media coverage? Supporting organizations like the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy is a tremendous start for national scale, but shaping the local news culture takes a localized, long-term movement. Encourage children to produce stories and perspectives on the HBCUs where they grow up. Connect with civic, religious and recreational organizations to advocate for HBCUs.
The media we create for ourselves is the media bias complaint we don’t have to make to someone else.
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