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The 2017 student-run global conference will explore the topic of media representations of minorities.

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Conference Will Explore Media Representations of Minorities

January 17, 2017

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Scholars, journalists, and students will gather for the fourth annual student-run global conference at Middlebury titled “Media and Minorities in the West: Revealing Trends and Biases” on Thursday and Friday, January 19–20. Hosted by the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs (RCGA), the conference is organized by Hasher Nisar ’16.5, along with RCGA program and outreach fellow, Aviva Shwayder ’16.

“The media play a critical role in shaping and reflecting our attitudes on a number of issues and social groups,” said Nisar. “Events over the past couple of years–Black Lives Matter, the November Paris attacks, the Syrian refugee crisis, the Brexit vote, the American presidential campaign–have brought the relationship between the media and minorities under renewed scrutiny. ”Nisar says that media representations of minorities have implications for domestic and foreign policies as well as the daily lives of vulnerable minority groups.

Nisar said the conference will offer an opportunity to analyze how the media influences our perceptions of minority groups through framing and to raise awareness of biases in news coverage.

“Our hope is that the conference will allow people to leave with a greater understanding of the media’s impact on the status of minorities and a greater awareness of how the media impacts and shapes our society locally, nationally, and globally,” said Nisar.

Four sessions will investigate media coverage of minorities at an international, national, and local level.

Rodney Benson, professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University, and Erik Bleich, professor of political science at Middlebury College, will kick off the first session, “A Transatlantic Perspective: Media Portrayals of Minorities,” discussing how immigrants and religious minorities are portrayed in the media across the U.S. and Europe.

At the second panel, “A North American Perspective: Racial Politics in the Media,” Erin Tolley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, and Bertram Johnson, professor of political science at Middlebury College, will explore how racial politics are depicted in the media in the US and Canada.

Three journalists from local Vermont media–Gaen Murphree from the Addison Independent, Adam Federman from VT Digger, and Jess Aloe from Burlington Free Press–will discuss how Vermont news coverage portrays minorities, such as refugees and migrant workers, and influences policy making.

In the final panel, “A Campus Perspective: Objectivity, Op-Eds, and Freedom of the Press,” three Middlebury student journalists–Claire Abbadi ’16, previous editor in chief of The Campus; Brandi Fullwood '17, editor of Middbeat; and Ellie Reinhardt '17, current editor in chief of The Campus–will tackle the issues related to on-campus media coverage of race and racism and the challenges of enabling all voices to be heard.

All events will take place at the Robert A. Jones House '59 House Conference Room at 148 Hillcrest Road, Middlebury, VT 05753. Additional parking is located at the Mahaney Center for the Arts, as well as on College Street and Old Chapel Road. More details about the conference are available online.