McGuire on Media

Political campaign highlights diversity challenges

We are at a remarkable junction in our political and media history.  It is going to be fascinating to see how history judges politics and the media after we have had a 71-year-old candidate for president, a mixed-race candidate for president, a female vice presidential candidate and a woman who just missed getting the Democratic nomination.

Here at the Cronkite School we make diversity a part of our ethics class so I decided to focus my third diversity class on the election. I will hold those discussions the week before the Nov. 4 vote so I don’t want to preempt the class. I do think some things about my preparation are worth sharing and below you will find my reading list for the class. (If you have any suggestions for additional readings I’d love to hear about them.)

Doing this exercise reminded me of what a wonderful natural resource Keith Woods is for journalism and for education.  Woods, the dean of the Poynter Institute does such wonderfully compelling work on covering race in America. Keith is a gift  to journalism and to the dialogue about diversity in this country. His depth of intellect and spirit about these subjects stirs me every time I spend a little time with his words. Every journalism ethics professor who addresses diversity should be using Keith’s work. 

That work and the work of his colleagues is why it is so important for the Poynter Institute to figure out ways to avoid being collateral damage in the newspaper carnage.

Another compelling piece I encountered was from NOW. In their argument that Hillary Clinton was treated in a sexist way they detail some specifics that make any thoughtful journalist pause with concern. This piece has a specific goal and advocacy position, but it forced me to think about the recklessness that is marking so much media output these days. When you read some of those examples you really start to wonder, “What the hell were they thinking?”

Finally, I encountered a Jon Stewart clip in my research which serves an an incredible commentary on the power of satire, the importance of perspective and the narrow lens through we all view our own causes and the causes of our enemies.

The other thing that clip taught me is just how much the Daily Show cherishes reporting and research.  The show’s command of a video library is a testament to the thoroughness of the show and the show’s incredible commitment to watchdog work. No matter how much Stewart might deny his show is journalism every reporter could learn a lot about storytelling from watching this clip and considering the truth it tells.

Tim McGuire’s reading list for class on Diversity in Presidential politics:

McCain and Age

Obama and Race

Hillary Clinton and gender


Sarah Palin and Gender