Research Matters

Research Matters

Diversity in Media

At a time when many college instructors might see cell phones as a distraction, one journalism professor encourages students to use cell phones with texting capabilities to research diversity in media.

Episode #81

2 minutes (2.8 MB) | Download mp3


At a time when many college instructors might see cell phones as a distraction, one journalism professor encourages students to bring cell phones with texting capabilities to her class. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Students in Simran Sethi's Diversity in Media class are required to maintain Facebook and Twitter accounts, and to send regular status updates and tweets on issues that pertain to race, gender, religion, sexual identity, class and other facets of diversity in popular media.

Sethi: Increasingly communities of color, particularly African Americans, are participating in social media via their cell phones. They've leapfrogged over that need to have a home computer or access to a computer at the library or at school, and they've also leaped over the need to have a high-speed Internet connection at home.

Given the limited capability of a Facebook status update or the 140-character limit of a Twitter tweet, some came to Sethi's class resistant to the idea of using social media as a platform for practicing journalism.

Sethi: Initially, much of the class was really not convinced you could use Facebook or Twitter to engage in deeper conversations or to tell any story of real substance. But I would say that most of them now are highly engaged - even when they're not required in class to be tweeting - because they want to have a dialogue with their followers.

For Sethi, the intention is to foster better storytelling from more points-of-view:

Sethi: One of the fundamental goals of this class was to make the invisible visible. What we're trying to do here is to say, 'A lot of perspectives are being overlooked.' While diverse communities may have been engaging in an insular way, now what we're seeing is that everyone has an opportunity to engage with these communities. But how do we do it best? What stores do we need to tell that we haven't been telling?

For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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With cell phones and laptops, students research diversity through social media


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