Speaker Biographies

Claire Abbadi ‘16, previous Editor-in-Chief of The Campus

Claire Abbadi graduated from Middlebury in May 2016 as an Economics major and Arabic minor. Throughout her time at Middlebury, she was involved with The Campus newspaper in some form. She started as a staff writer for the Features and News sections as a first year, and subsequently became a news editor her sophomore year and junior years. She then served as Editor in Chief of the paper during her senior year, during which there were many campus wide discussions about race, inclusion and the media. After graduation, she joined the Emerging Markets trading desk at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is originally from the D.C. area, but has lived several places worldwide including Rome, Italy and Moscow, Russia because of her mom’s foreign service career.

Jess Aloe, Journalist at Burlington Free Press

Jess Aloe is a Burlington city reporter for the Burlington Free Press. As part of her beat, she covers City Hall, the city’s changing demographics, social services, homelessness and other challenges facing Vermont’s largest city. She has also reported on Vermont politics. She previously worked at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and Commonwealth Magazine in Boston. Prior to becoming a journalist, she taught English and creative writing in Baltimore and worked for a nonprofit that focused on rebuilding in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. She studied creative writing and political science at Johns Hopkins University and has a master’s in multimedia journalism from Emerson College and grew up in New York City.

Rodney Benson, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University

Rodney Benson is professor and chair in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Sociology at New York University. He is the author of Shaping Immigration News: A French-American Comparison (Cambridge, 2013), winner of best book awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the International Journal of Press/Politics. In addition to numerous academic journal articles, he has written on media and migration for Le Monde Diplomatique, Al Jazeera, the Miami Herald, and The Conversation. Benson holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California-Berkeley.

Erik Bleich, Professor of Political Science, Middlebury College

Erik Bleich is Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College. He is the director of the Media Portrayals of Minorities (MPoMP) lab, which involves collaborative work with Middlebury College students.

Adam Federman, Journalists at VT Digger

Adam Federman covers Rutland County for VT Digger. His work has appeared in the Nation magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, Earth Island Journal and other publications. He is the recipient of a Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism and a Polk Grant for Investigative Reporting. His biography of British food writer Patience Gray will be published by Chelsea Green in June.

Brandi Fullwood ‘17, Editor of Middbeat

Brandi Fullwood is pursuing a dual undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Political Science and Film & Media Culture. She is a resident and supporter of New Haven, CT. She is a storyteller: a writer, filmmaker, DJ, and a fibber-dark humorist combo—all with a preference in narrative journalism. She is both the station manager of WRMC 91.1 FM Middlebury College Radio and an editor of Middbeat.

Bertram Johnson, Professor of Political Science, Middlebury College

Bert Johnson has taught at Middlebury College since 2004. He is author of “Political Giving: Making Sense of Individual Campaign Contributions,” and is working on a new project on preference intensity in U.S. politics.

Angelo Lynn, 

Angelo Lynn was born in 1953 into a newspaper family in Iola, Kansas. Raised in Kansas and Bowie, Texas, he graduated with a BA in Journalism from William Allen White School of Journalism at Kansas University in Lawrence in 1976. In 1984, he bought the Addison County Independent. In 1988, he took the weekly newspaper to a twice-weekly, publishing Monday and Thursday. Today The Independent is Vermont’s only twice-weekly paper, and has a staff of 21 full and part-time employees. He has served two years as the president of the Vermont Press Association in 1988 and 1989, and 10 years on the New England Press Association board of directors.

Gaen Murphree, Journalist at Addison Independent

Gaen Murphree is a reporter for the award-winning Addison Independent for whom she covers agriculture, Middlebury College, energy, the environment and the five towns of the ANeSU school district. A professional wordsmith for over three decades, Murphree’s writing has appeared in everything from Lonely Planet travel guides to onstage at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, the nation’s premiere producer of new plays. Murphree comes to newspaper journalism from a background in book publishing — where she’s worked as a ghostwriter and developmental editor — and professional theater. Murphree has worked as such theaters as the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. She has taught both playwriting and fiction writing at the college level.

Ellie Reinhardt ‘17, Current Editor-in-Chief of The Campus

Ellie Reinhardt, a senior history major and Spanish minor, began working for the Campus as a writer then news Editor upon arrival her freshman year. As Editor-in-Chief this year, Ellie is working with a team of more than 40 editors to craft a newspaper that reaches the entire student body. Besides the Campus, Ellie has spent much of her time at Midd swimming for the Panthers until she quit at the start of this year. She also spent a semester speaking Spanish and studying history in Buenos Aires. Ellie was born and raised in Westfield, NJ, the youngest in a family of four.

Erin Tolley, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto

Erin Tolley is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. Her research looks at the impact of race and gender on Canadian politics. She is the author of Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics (UBC Press 2016), and the co-editor of five books on immigration and multiculturalism. Her current research looks at the recruitment of women and minority candidates by political parties.

Abstracts & Panel Descriptions

Session 1

A Transatlantic Perspective: Media Portrayal of Minorities

This panel will examine how immigrants and religious minorities are portrayed in the media across the US and Europe (UK, France, & Norway).

  • Media Portrayals of Muslims in the US and the UK: How Bad Are They, Really?

Muslims have been an especially stigmatized group in the United States and the United Kingdom over the past few decades. How have the media reflected, promoted, or attenuated this stigmatization through their portrayals of Muslims and Islam? I use new approaches to media analysis to explore the ways in which media portrayals of Muslims compare to those of Jews, Catholics, and Christians in two national settings.

Erik Bleich, Professor of Political Science, Middlebury College

  • Shaping Immigration News: Comparisons of the U.S., France, and Norway

Benson’s presentation compares how the U.S., French, and Norwegian news media have covered immigration, highlighting the dominant speakers and frames. The talk will also note salient differences in coverage between commercial vs. public, and elite vs. popular, media outlets. Benson will link these conclusions to recommendations for changes in media policy and professional practices that could contribute to more comprehensive and diverse coverage of the immigration process and of immigrant experiences.

Rodney Benson, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University


Session 2

A North American Perspective: Racial Politics in the Media

This panel will explore how racial politics are depicted in the media in the US and Canada.

  • Strong Views, Virality, and The U.S. Media Environment

New media technologies have altered the way in which those with intense political preferences consume, produce, and distribute media. These changes have implications for traditional media outlets, for minority groups, and for politics in the U.S. writ large.

Bertram Johnson, Professor of Political Science, Middlebury College

  • Framed: Media Coverage of Racial Minorities in Canadian Politics

Canada prides itself on its multiculturalism and acceptance of diversity, often looking to its American neighbours with a sense of smug satisfaction. Erin Tolley casts doubt on that perception and argues that race still matters in Canadian politics. In this presentation, she will present findings from her new book, Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics, which examines the narratives underpinning electoral news coverage in Canada. Her analysis shows that racial minority politicians receive more negative and less prominent media coverage than their white counterparts, and their portrayal pigeonholes them as less politically viable. Dr. Tolley argues that this is a function of racialized assumptions, institutional biases and organizational norms that regard whiteness as standard. Although the prognosis is somewhat grim, she will provide some recommendations for journalists interested in addressing these challenges. These include a commitment to analogous news judgment and more explicit guidelines about the relevance of race to news stories.

Erin Tolley, Professor, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto

Session 3

  • A Local Perspective: Vermont Journalists

Three journalists from our local Vermont media, Addison Independent, VT Digger, and Burlington Free Press, will participate in a panel to examine the media portrayals of minorities, such as refugees and migrant workers, and their influence on policymaking.


Session 4

  • A Campus Perspective: Objectivity, Op-Eds, and Freedom of the Press

Student journalists will participate in a panel to tackle the issues related to race and racism in campus media sources and the challenges of providing a space for all voices to be heard. In addition, there will be a conversation about the sources through which we consume media and the need for alternative media sources.

Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones 59 House
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury, VT 05753