News & Features, October 2016

Forum will explore media bias

The Media and Communications Department of Saint Augustine’s University will hold a forum entitled, “Media bias: How bad is it?” on Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Prezell R. Robinson Library. It is free and open to all students, faculty and staff and alumni.

The forum will explore the charges of media bias that have been a prominent part of the 2016 presidential election. During the primary process, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and his followers stated on many occasions that the media was giving too much coverage to the candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and not enough to Sanders. Meanwhile, in the Republican primaries, candidates frequently complained that the media shined too much of the spotlight on Donald Trump and paid too little attention to all of the other candidates.

Since Clinton and Trump won the nominations of their political parties, the focus of the complaints has changed. Now, Trump and his supporters are complaining vehemently that the mainstream media has a liberal bias and is favoring Clinton in their reporting. Complaints from Clinton supporters have been less vehement, but some also see unfairness – they say Trump’s candidacy is so unusual that the media is “grading him on a curve,” expecting less out of him and holding him to a lower standard than Clinton.

“How is the average person to sort this all out?” said Assistant Professor Dan Holly, who will be the forum moderator. “We have assembled a distinguished panel to give their take on media bias. I really hope we can generate light rather than heat on this important topic – a free and fair press is at the heart of our democracy.”

The panelists will be: Orage Quarles, former publisher of the News & Observer; Wayne Dawkins, a professor of professional practice at the Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications; J. Peder Zane, who taught journalism at Saint Augustine’s University for seven years and is a columnist for the News & Observer as well as a contributing writer to the New York Times; Joseph Cabosky, an Assistant Professor at the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Blair L.M. Kelley, Assistant Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies and International Programs for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  At N.C. State University.

Mr. Holly organized the forum is part of a class he teaches called The Media and Political Campaigns. Students were heavily involved in organizing the forum, Holly said.

The course, which was created last year at the suggestion of Pres. Everett B. Ward.

“It’s very timely course,” Mr. Holly added. “It is helping students to get more engaged in the presidential campaign. I’m proud of the students for their role in helping to organize the forum and we hope to get a lot of participation from the Saint Augustine’s community.”

Mr. Holly added that refreshments will be served.