On October 15, 2018, the Division of Student Equity and Support Programs hosted “Real News, Fake News: Media in the Era of Trump,” a panel discussion featuring guest speakers, Kevin Powell and Rocky Rivera. The discussion was moderated by Jessica Hurless, Professor of Communication Studies. The event opened with a message from Lasana Hotep, Dean of Student Equity and Support Programs to provide context about the multiple layers of the program and the value in engaging in this particular experience. He said, “There’s no such thing as neutral media. Everything has an agenda in the way it is expressed. There are narratives being told about why things are happening, narratives about particular groups of people, and narratives about why those groups are situated in society a certain way.” The goal of the program was to expose, educate, and equip students with vocabulary and context to help them understand the information they’re being overwhelmed with in our current social and political climate.
Rocky Rivera and Kevin Powell shared their career trajectories and what made them interested in journalism and social justice. They said because our society is generally miseducated about American history, it’s very easy to be misguided by media outlets that criminalize communities of color, women, low-income, undocumented, and other minority groups in the U.S.
Kevin Powell stated, “There’s no way we can answer the question of, what is real news and what is fake news if we don’t even have a working knowledge of where we are.” We also live in a modern era where access to technology and social media have influenced present day journalism. Rocky shared the potential of using social media to help enact social change and our individual responsibility to be informed citizen-journalists when we see injustice. She said, “10 or so years ago, we did not have this ability to broadcast on demand… #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter would have never happened if it wasn’t for social media. It’s so powerful because any one of us can document our experiences.”
The discussion with speakers was followed by a brief audience engagement segment and an announcement by the Director of the Learning Commons, Gabriela Nocito. She talked about the role the library plays in supporting students along with resources the library can provide to help students discern real news from fake news, which included an activity and display in the theater lobby.
After the program, the Associated Students of Skyline College hosted a voter registration table for the upcoming midterm elections. Participants also engaged in a book signing with Kevin Powell who recently published My Mother. Barack Obama. Donald Trump. And the Last Stand of the Angry White Man.
Jess Grainger, Instructor and College and Career Advisor said, “I thought the event was powerful, both for the bold topic they chose, as well as the remarkable speakers Skyline was able to bring in. My students were impressed by their clear expertise, and were also excited to see some of their own future goals, aspirations, and dreams represented, in-the-flesh, by the distinguished likes of Mr. Kevin Powell, and Ms. Rocky Rivera.”
Article by Katrina Pantig | Photo by Naomi Quizon