The Multicultural TV Summit featured the keynote conversation “Taken From the Headlines: Why Multicultural TV Matters,” and the panelists talked about the merits of a diverse newsroom.
“I think you need to look like America if you want to cover America,” said Ramon Escobar, VP, talent recruitment & development and VP, diversity & inclusion, CNN Worldwide. “Study after study shows, if you do reflect America, it will pay off.”
The panelists discussed the echo chamber notion that sees people consume the news that most fits their mindset. Phillip Mena, co-anchor on Early Today and correspondent at MSNBC, said the expanding variety of news sources, including Snapchat and Instagram, gives consumers more voices.
“I think it’s a healthy mix of where you get your news,” he said. “You want to avoid polarization.”
Mark Robichaux, managing director, content, B&C and Multichannel News, hosted the panel.
Juan Williams, co-host of The Five on Fox News Channel, said it is on the user to do “a little surfing” and see what other voices are saying on the day’s issues. “It’s important to me to hear how people are responding to Trump’s messages in a way I wouldn’t hear if I was in an echo chamber,” he said.
Arthel Neville, co-anchor of America’s News HQ on Fox News Channel, said it is vital to have a “spectrum of races” in the news feed. “What was once different is actually normal,” she said.
The lively panel, held at the Stewart Hotel in New York, touched on social media, President Trump, MeToo and Black Lives Matter.
Escobar stressed the importance of not alienating Latinos or African-Americans or Asians as a “niche group.”
“Minorities are becoming a majority so they can no longer be defined as an outside group,” he said. “They’re now part of the core. You have to rethink and recast how you approach them and make sure they are included.”
The panel stressed the importance of solid journalism in this divided nation. “What we can do as programmers, journalists and storytellers is make sure we just keep pounding the pavement,” said Neville, “and presenting the faces, the stories, the emotions behind the people, and we’re going to break through.”