Oswego calling for diversity in media

Faculty and students at Oswego State are calling for voices of diversity in the media of the future.

On Thursday, March 22, the Voices of Diversity program held a private luncheon and an evening lecture. At the luncheon, Jackie Robinson, an anchor from the CNY Central news station in Syracuse, spoke to the invited guests about how she started her career in broadcasting.

Robinson received a full scholarship to Syracuse University’s New House School. The day after her graduation, she started working at WSYR radio and television before transitioning to WSTM-TV. Her message to everyone was to persevere.

“I was brought up to believe I could do anything,” Robinson said. “Because of that, I will be celebrating 34 years at Channel 3 this May.”

At 7 p.m., John Karas Smith, a professor in the communications studies department at Oswego State, gave a speech about Martin Luther King Jr. after the crowd in the Campus Center Auditorium viewed King’s famous Mountaintop speech. The speech was originally given in Memphis on April 4, 1968, the very night of King’s death.

Smith described King as a theologian, liberator and transformative leader.

“Our call is his call from the mountaintop,” Smith said. “We hear his faint but perceptible voice.”

After Smith’s speech, Janet Uzzel and Akilah Portee led the audience in a discussion about a blackface montage from Spike Lee’s 2000 film, “Bamboozled.”

In response to the video, Gabor Hardy, another professor from the communication studies department, noticed that all of the African American portrayals all shared the same principle.

“I see an object of laughter, but never thinking or intelligence,” he said. “You don’t want to give a serious face to what you consider inferior.”

Communication studies professor Michael Riecke posed a question to the future broadcasting professionals.

“In the evening news, on local stations, are we looking for diverse opinions?” he asked.

The group discussed the meaning of “caving in” to the stereotypes of different minorities in order to move further within their respective careers.

David Moody from the communications studies department, along with students Amber Hammonds and Chelsea Hamlet, planned the first Voices of Diversity event, which they hope will be an annual occurrence.