Journalists Speak About Racial Bias During Diversity Panel

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Five journalists discussed issues of race, religion and class during a diversity panel on Tuesday. 

The event was sponsored by Ohio University's Society of Professional Journalists. It acts as a continuation of the discussion of race in America by Soledad O'Brien last week and coincides with Black History Month. 

Tony Augusty said he occasionally gets racially stereotype and this happens both in and outside the newsroom. 

"There are a lot of people, even members of the (same) race, and people you'll run into in the newsroom who only hang out with members of their own race," said Augusty, the Assistant Sports Editor for The Detroit News website. "When you do that, there's a lot of stuff that will go over your head."

A common theme of the night was that these were ongoing issues and continued discussion is necessary. 

"The fact that we're still having these conversations…means that we still need to," said Dr. Noelle Hunter, an instructor of writing at Maysville Community and Technical College. "Unfortunately when you look at contemporary media, whether it's print or broadcast journalism, we keep seeing the same stories that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, the nuances are not always about race or gender, now they're about who people choose to spend their life with."

The panelists also spoke directly to students in the audience to not shy away from voicing their thoughts on such controversial issues, despite their age. 

"These training grounds allow students to see professionals…and say 'you know what, its okay to bring your perspective into the mix.'"

Dr. Robert Stewart, the director of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, also said it is important for students to have conversations about diversity now to prepare them for the future. 

"Who knows where you're going to get a job, where you're going to end up. In a way, you're being given things to think about that you might not think are relevant in your life right now but once you get out into a certain situation, you can draw on these ideas to help you process things and make better decisions."

Other panelists included Lee Chottiner, executive editor of The Jewish Chronicle in Pittsburg, Ken Paxson, managing editor of The Xenia Daily Gazette in Ohio and Charlie Boss, education reporter of The Columbus Dispatch