Last week Monday a panel of local women journalists came together to discuss the foremost issues currently facing the industry.
The panel, hosted by the Edgewood College student newspaper, On The Edge, was titled “The Battle is Never Over: Overcoming adversity in the news business” and moderated by former Wisconsin State Journal Editor Ellen Foley.
Panelist included co-founder of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Dee Hall, Isthmus editor Judith Davidoff, Wisconsin State journal senior editor Teryl Franklin, Madison Magazine editor Karen Lincoln Michel, USAID Center for Excellence communications director Jessica Benton Cooney and founder of Umoja Magazine Milele Chikasa Anana.
Topics of discussion ranged from the future of the industry to the present-day effects of racial tension and the current presidential administration’s consistent war with mainstream media.
A question of how journalism could maintain its position as a primary way of spreading and receiving accurate information in the age of “fake news” was posed early on.
“I think what he’s doing is making a case for why journalist are important ,” said Franklin of Donald Trump. “People really need to learn how to pay more attention to the source of information, right now people in this country are seeing things pop up in their social media feeds and their making decision based on it without even looking at where the information came from.”
“I think journalism at its core is always going to be important to democracy,” added Michel, who believed that it was important to predict the next big advancement for news sharing and producing in order to maintain relevancy.
“I think it’s important for leaders of news organizations to really try to get out ahead of what is the next thing coming,” she said. “If you look at what’s happening now with the dominance of Facebook and Google and the technological advances like virtual reality and artificial intelligence, I think it’s clear that news outlets have to really shift and adapt to all these changes and learn how to use them wisely.”
Just as hot a topic as Donald Trump and social media is the coverage of race relations and newsroom diversity.
Anana opened by saying she started Umoja because she saw Black people being misrepresented or underrepresented in Madison media at the time.
“I was determined to give a different perspective and show my people in a beautiful way,” she said.
Michel also echoed sentiments of seeing her own community being misrepresented and painted in stereotypically shallow lights.
“I think it’s important for us to always look for different voices in different communities,” said Michel. “We do have to examine how we are covering different issues.”
Ultimately all the panelists agreed that truth telling remained at the core of the news business.
“I’m not sure what the future holds, but I think we should really evaluate the present of why we are where we are and why truth has become so devalued,” said Hall. “The main thing that journalism has is credibility and we need to figure out a way to make it very clear which sources are striving for the best attainable version of the truth and which ones are friendly propaganda.”