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TODAY: Media & Minorities, Middlebury’s 4th Annual Global Affairs Conference

Starting today through tomorrow, come check out the 4th annual student-run global affairs conference. The topic this year? Media & Minorities In the West: Revealing Trends & Biases. Read the press release for the event here, and look out for the schedule above! Of particular note might session 4 on 1/20, when Middlebury editors of both The Campus and middbeat will participate in a panel discussion on the coverage of race and racism in campus media.

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 the topic at Middlebury College’s conference, “Media & Minorities in the West: Revealing Trends & Biases” on Thursday and Friday, January 19–20. Hosted by the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs (RCGA), 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.

Rodney Benson, professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University, and Erik Bleich, professor of political science at Middlebury College, will kick off the first session, “A Transatlantic Perspective: Media Portrayals of Minorities,” discussing how immigrants and religious minorities are portrayed in the media across the US and Europe.

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 US and Canada.

Three journalists from local Vermont media — Gaen Murphree from Addison Independent, Adam Federman from VT Digger, and Jess Aloe from 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 student journalists —Claire Abbadi ’16, previous editor-in-chief of The Campus; Brandi Fullwood ’17, editor of Middbeat; and Ellie Reinhardt ’17, current editor-in-chief of The Campus —will tackle the issues related to on-campus media coverage of race and racism and the challenges of enabling all voices to be heard.

All events will take place at the Robert A. Jones House ’59 House Conference Room at 148 Hillcrest Road, Middlebury, VT, 05753. 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 ashwayder@middlebury.edu.

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