Up Next: An action plan and resources on how to improve diversity opportunities in campus newsrooms. Coming next Tuesday in CMR.
Covering Bigotry on Campus
By Rachele Kanigel
San Francisco State University
Last summer, before they even met, two roommates at Georgia Southern University introduced themselves and started chatting over text. It all seemed friendly until one young woman, who is White*, inadvertently wrote this to her soon-to-be roommate, who is Black:
Her insta looks pretty normal not too nig—ish.
The message was intended for a third roommate who was assigned to share the room with them. Mortified, the woman who sent the text immediately apologized.
“OMG I am so sorry! Holy crap,” she wrote. “I did NOT mean to say that. … I meant to say triggerish meaning like you seemed really cool nothing that triggered a red flag. I’m so embarrassed I apologize.”
But the apology didn’t stop the text conversation from going viral. Before long screenshots of the exchange were all over social media.
Matthew Enfinger, editor-in-chief ofThe George-Anne, the student newspaper at Georgia Southern University, recognized the incident as a news story, but also as an opportunity to delve into the deeper issues it represented.
Students at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, didn’t seem as engaged—or interested—in The Pulse, a student-run media hub comprised of a website, magazine, yearbook and radio station as the student journalists wanted to see.
Copies of the magazine, published three times a semester, remained on racks. The website, regularly updated with new content, wasn’t generating the anticipated conversations. Response to freebies with The Pulse logo was lackluster.
Something needed to change, Pulse staffers said, and adviser Ed Arke encouraged them to see what they could do.
The students embarked on a rebranding and marketing campaign in spring 2018 that found them designing a new logo, overhauling The Pulse website, and creating new Pulse posters and brochures that were in place when fall 2018 classes started.