Farai Chideya, renowned NPR host, journalist, author and speaker, presented her speech, “The Revolution Twitterized: Impact of Social Media and Citizen Journalism” to a full audience of students, faculty, staff and community members at 7:30 p.m. yesterday in the Park Auditorium.
Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media, said he has been following Chideya’s career since 1995, when she started the blog www.popandpolitics.com, which is still operating today. He said he was excited to see such a large and diverse audience.
“It’s a thrill for us to have her here,” Cohen said. “She’s worked in old and new media, independent media and corporate media and it is wonderful to have her speak.”
Chideya’s speech focused on diversity in the newsroom and social media’s impact on tradition media outlets. She discussed the growing trend of news organizations lacking diversity and the trend’s implications on the production and progression of news media.
“The pressures of the economy along with some stereotypes about who can use technology have combined to bring us into a digital age of journalism that threatens to be diversity free,” Chideya said. “When you consider the fact that there are diversity-free teams all over America trying to create the future of journalism, that’s a problem.”
When discussing her experience while covering Hurricane Katrina, Chideya explained that it is possible in today’s world of independent media and advancing technology, to produce effective news stories independently.
“With a camera, a microphone and iMovie, it allows you to be the one man band,” she said. “There are pros and cons to the one man band approach, but it can definitely be done.”
Sophomore journalism major Chris Zivalich said he attended both the Q&A session and the speech and took Chideya’s presentation to heart.
"The discussion on journalism in the modern day and age was both exciting and insightful,” he said. “I really appreciated how she explained the role of media from a variety of angles like racial diversity and political engagement.”
Chideya also discussed the ability of journalists to create their own brand of media. She said the future, while uncertain, holds great potential for those who want to create new media.
“When I’m able to be a media maker, I am able of make sense of a world that often seems tragic or recklessly inhumane,” she said. “I believe it actually changes your relationship to the world.”
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