By Kashyah Williams and Ryan Zunner
On October 14, Digital Media and Communication Journalism students, Kashyah Williams, Ryan Zunner, and Jennifer Roback were given the opportunity by DMAC division chair, Professor Chris Gallant, to attend the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists conference luncheon at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The conference keynote speaker was Les Trent, television correspondent from Inside Edition.
According to the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists website, the association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding and creating a more balanced news coverage of minorities as well as increasing the representation of minorities through staff and management levels. The BABJ hosts workshops and political debates. The group strives to strengthen ties among blacks in all media, as well as assist black journalists in enhancing their skills.
The discussion panel, which consisted of anchors and editors, spoke about fake news. As one can imagine, the discussion took many different approaches–from comments from Trump’s speeches and rhetoric to the bizarre stories that are shared by Facebook friends. The discussion prompted ways to combat fake news and how to educate oneself on how to differentiate between real and fake news. One reporter suggested talking about the news at the dinner table as a way to welcome discussion about the news. Ask your child what they think of a news story.
In this fast-paced digital era of news, it’s nearly impossible to escape false stories. Consumers and producers of news must continuously educate themselves on how to fact check, check sources, and strive for credibility when reading and especially when reporting or writing the news. Sharing fake news can tarnish credibility and ultimately a journalist’s reputation.
The discussion panel concluded with a remark from Les Trent aimed toward black journalists in particular: “So, what can we do? What is the role of our reporters, black or white, but particularly black journalists in this age of fake news and attacks on our credibility? First, those attacks can make us work ever more diligently to get it right. Also, when you are dealing with issues involving our people, you cannot always sugarcoat it, because that is exactly what is expected. Perception-wise to critics, when you are a journalist of color, there is a very narrow gulf between objectivity and bias. But, being black does have a special purpose, we will go where others won’t go, we will ask the questions that others won’t ask, and, contrary what others think, we can be brutally honest with and about each other but still show the depth of a story. Also, as I said more than once today, you’ve got to check your sources. The best way to combat fake news is to not trust what is written, but go to the actual source.”
Contact Professor Gallant firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contact him about more information regarding Digital Media and Communication as a major or if you’re interested in the field.
Photo: From left to right: Ryan Zunner, Kashyah Williams, Professor Chris Gallant, Jennifer Roback, and Les Trent pose for a selfie at the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists luncheon conference.