Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: News organizations must do better at addressing BIPOC

The Ernie Pyle statue is pictured in front of Franklin Hall.
The Ernie Pyle statue is pictured in front of Franklin Hall.

Today journalism has dozens of different forms. From social media apps, to websites updating by the second to news channels run on television 24/7, there always seems to be a place to find the news. Despite the wide variety of outlets, many organizations still struggle to correctly cover Black communities

Yasmin Elgoharry has ample history as a consumer, creator and teacher of journalism. Elgoharry is a career coach at the Walter Center for Career Achievement at IU, an instructor in the media school and an advisor for the National Association of Black Journalists at IU.

Elgoharry said journalism is important to our society — specifically the relationship between journalists and citizens. Journalism is made to provide a voice for the voiceless, and give information to people.

“I think it is basically the driving force for democracy,” Elgoharry said.

While this relationship can build trust between citizens and journalists, Elgoharry said journalism has not always given people of color a voice. She said specifically with Black people, journalists have a history of not always accurately representing the Black community. 

For example, protests for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were covered by hundreds of news outlets. Certain words like “riots” and “looting” were used as descriptors for these protests. This can create the idea they were made to do harm to the country, when they were a way for people to speak on systemic issues plaguing America.

While Black people need to work to create spaces for themselves, Elgoharry knows it’s also important to make sure our voices are being heard in all rooms — not just the ones we create.

“I think for change to really happen, there is also a need for Black people and people of color to occupy different spaces and push for change,” Elgoharry said. 

As of this year, almost 74% of the television news workforce is white and only 13% is Black. The Hispanic, Asian and Native American communities also have a lack of representation in news media. 

Having more Black editors in print and online organizations, broadcasters on live news channels and more Black journalists who are household names in America is a start to accomplishing this. By putting ourselves in the spaces we were once kept out of, we can no longer be ignored and start to make changes from the inside as well as the outside.

IU junior and journalism major Dav Graham said news organizations must provide correct information to citizens about what's happening not only in our country but around the entire world.

“Journalists are here to inform us about the injustices happening around our country but it’s really hard to find an unbiased source of news,” Graham said.

As a Black man, Graham believes organizations can do a better job of covering the Black community as a whole.

“With the media today it seems like they are just trying to appeal to people's emotions and cover what people will react to the most,” Graham said.

He believes this could explain why big stories with police brutality such as those about Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are on national news but not others like the death of Dreasjon Reed in Indianapolis earlier this year.

At its core, journalism should always be able to inform and be a place to give a voice to all people.

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