A Baylor panel discussed race and transcending stereotypes in the media Thursday, offering suggestions on how to best present different races when reporting.
Dr. Moody-Ramirez, a journalism professor, opened with a discussion about framing in the media.
“Race becomes a factor because typically reporters and media professionals will slant a story based on their own personal experiences and perspectives,” she said.
The framing of a story gives journalists the ability to influence the perspective of their readers. Moody-Ramirez also suggested that the best thing to do to avoid stereotyping when reporting is to get several different perspectives.
“No article should include just one,” she said. For example, if you are writing a story about welfare, you should interview the stereotypical person as well as a college student who needs it to pay for groceries. Always include different perspectives.”
Ramona Curtis, director for Baylor University’s Leadership Development and Civic Engagement, discussed the importance of being cautious about stereotyping.
Curtis trains managers on how to deal with situations where issues of differences of ethnicities and races arise. She uses the M.E.E.T model, which encourages the production of common ground between individuals.
As Dr. Moody-Ramirez, Curtis believes that framing of races and ethnicities creates stereotypes in the media. She used Hurricane Katrina as an example of how media frame things differently.
“Black individuals holding on to material things to stay afloat after the hurricane were considered to be looting, while Caucasian individuals performing the same actions were not considered to be doing the same,” Curtis said.
Journalists have to consider race, culture and gender carefully. These social factors still exist are vital, stressed Curtis.
“The way you portray the experience in a story, what I am seeing, what I am reading in a story can impact how I feel about myself,” she said.
Curtis said media stereotypes could have a huge affect on how people feel about themselves, which can eventually lead to serious societal issues.
William Beteet, a junior at Baylor University and an aspiring novelist, illustrated the problems caused by stereotypes. He took the discussion to a personal level by sharing his first hand experiences.
“I hate when people can’t look past stereotypes, he said. “We need to see ourselves as human beings.”
Beteet, who is half African American and half-Indian, mentioned that in high school he was searching for his identity in the shows he watched on TV.
“I watched it and before I knew it I started to transform myself into something I was not,” Beteet said.
He later realized that he was tired of feeling he needed to fit into one specific group. He advised individuals not to conform to the stereotypes the media has created.
“It is not so much the media stereotyping different races that is horrible, but it is us allowing ourselves to be objectified into a certain category,” Beteet said.