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Coffee with the Times Discussion Critiques Race in the Media

By Samantha Wenwoi
APRIL 13, 2007--The controversy surrounding radio shock jock Don Imus' recent racially-motivated and sexist remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team will be among one of the topics to provide fodder for the final discussion in the University of Wisconsin-River Falls "Coffee with the Times" news series.

A critique of the American media's ability to objectively straddle the divide of the color line is the focus of "Race: How is This Big Story Not Being Covered?", which will be led by UWRF psychology professor Cyndi Kernahan and UWRF journalism professor Sandy Ellis on April 25 at 12:15 p.m. in the Falls Room of the University Center. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Kernahan and Ellis decided to facilitate a discussion on this topic because of the apparent dearth of news coverage concerning issues affecting people of color, Ellis said. "Sometimes it's not in as prominent a position as it should be in the news."

The fact that racism and discrimination still persist in spite of the changing demographics of our society is why our news outlets should receive closer scrutiny, Kernahan said. "As a result, we all need to think more critically about the media we consume and the ways in which race is covered: What and who is left out? What is emphasized?"

As professors who have a vested interest in issue of race in the media, (Kernahan teaches a Psychology of Prejudice and Racism course and Ellis teaches a Race and Class in the News course), Kernahan said that she and Ellis are hoping that discussion attendees will walk away with a more discerning eye toward the news that they consume.

"Discussing race and prejudice and engaging in a critical analysis of how these issues are covered in the media often help lead all of us to new insights," says Kernahan. "We're hoping to see some of that and to have some fun talking about current events."

Ellis stressed the importance of creating a conversation about what many Americans find too difficult to discuss openly. " This is a hard subject. It makes people anxious but that's probably an even greater reason to talk about it."

The "Coffee with the Times" news series is sponsored by the American Democracy Project and the New York Times Readership Program at UWRF. For more information, contact UWRF journalism department chair Colleen Callahan at 715-425-3169 or by e-mail at


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:12 Central Daylight Time


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