In order to bring attention to the importance of, and lack of, diversity in mainstream media, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) sponsored a town hall meeting in Washington, DC last Friday. Moderated by Tavis Smiley, panelists for the forum, called “Why Media Diversity Matters,” included FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, Industry Ears, Inc. Co-Founder Lisa Fager, National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy, and Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Mark Lloyd.
Panelists highlighted several themes, including media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the debacle over Don Imus’comments earlier this year. When addressing these issues, women and racial minorities should feel as though they are being represented accurately, panelists said. Too often, however, such people are positioned as objects, rather than subjects, in media coverage. Lloyd pointed to the relationship between those who deliver the news and those who consume it as a source of this problem, saying, “The way media covers these issues is directly related to who the reporters and producers and anchors are, to who is employed in the media. Who is employed by media is directly related to who owns the media.’
Wade Henderson, president of LCCR, encouraged advocates and activists to continue ‘pressing traditional media by using non-traditional media,’ and applauded the efforts of organizations and coalitions to create diversity in news reporting and media programming.