JMC discussion panel breaks barriers


Traci Williams, senior lecturer in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Shanice Dunning, a Channel 19 reporter; Amanda Leu, a coordinator in the College of Communication and Information Office of Academic Diversity Outreach; and Lorraine Schuchart, CEO of Prosper for Purpose, discuss the Breaking Down Barriers discussion at Franklin Hall on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

Linda Stocum

Diversity, how it is defined and how it is applied in both everyday life and media was discussed at the Journalism and Mass Communication panel event Wednesday.

“It is their story, not your story,” Amanda Leu, the coordinator of Academic Diversity Outreach, said about how to report on diversity.

The panel was led by Traci Williams, a lecturer in the Department of JMC; Shanice Dunning, a reporter for Cleveland 19 News and a Kent State graduate; Lorraine Schuchart, founder and CEO of Prosper for Purpose; and Leu.

The discussion emphasized the importance of what communicators put into the world.

“Entertainers say things for a moment, communicators say things for a lifetime,” said Braylon Lee, a representative of the National Association of Black Journalists.

The influence of what the media puts out into the public was also discussed, as it affects perceptions of people all across the United States and the world.

“We believe what we see,” Williams said. “You have a huge responsibility.”

Williams went on to discuss the difference between cultural capacity and cultural confidence. Cultural capacity is a part of cultural confidence on a superficial level, while cultural confidence is understanding of a culture on a higher level.

She also discussed how to give respect to different types of culture, ethnicity, religion and sexuality.

“We don’t define people by what makes them different,” Schuchart said. “They are people first.”

Dunning added to the subject, talking about how coming out of your comfort zone is needed to understand diversity.

“You have to step outside of yourself,” Dunning said.

No one is perfect when it comes to understanding all the different diversities in the world.

“It never hurts to ask. Check to make sure the language you are using is appropriate,” Leu said. “There is no such thing as a diversity expert.”

The discussions were followed by showings of controversial commercials, including Pepsi’s commercial featuring Kendall Jenner that created upset on social media and in the news.

Leu said that Pepsi seemed to be following a trend rather than trying to advocate for anything.

“They know that it is very popular right now,” Leu said.

Attendees debated whether or not Pepsi meant to be insensitive or if they had any good intentions when creating the commercial.

“They didn’t have the facts,” said Alyse Rohloff, a senior public relations major. “They had diverse people as props.”

Leu summed up the evening: “We have to do better.”

Linda Stocum is the room and board reporter, contact her at [email protected].