September 17, 2014  

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Southern Miss Professors to Sign, Discuss New Book on Race and News

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Dr. Chris Campbell, director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at Southern Miss, has co-authored a new book, "Race and News: Critical Perspectives." (Submitted photo)

Three faculty members in The University of Southern Mississippi School of Mass Communication and Journalism will discuss and sign their new book, “Race and News:  Critical Perspectives,” in Room 103 of the Trent Lott Center at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2. The event is free and open to the public.

Published last month by Routledge, a leading publisher of cultural studies research, the book examines how issues related to race and ethnicity are covered by local, regional and national news organizations.

“The book looks at a variety of events, including coverage of Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy, Hurricane Katrina, the Don Imus controversy, even the Virginia Tech shootings,” said Kim LeDuff, associate professor and associate director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. “We try to examine the coverage in terms of its impact on contemporary racial attitudes and public policy.”

LeDuff’s co-authors are Chris Campbell, professor and director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism; Cheryl Jenkins, assistant professor in the school; and Rockell Brown, assistant professor in the School of Communication at Texas Southern University.

“My own interest is in the racial diversity in newsrooms and how that affects coverage,” said Jenkins. “I’m also interested in challenging some journalistic traditions – including the very notion of objectivity – because they have an impact on how race and racism are framed in the news.”

Campbell, who in 1995 authored “Race, Myth and the News,” said the research for the new book was an opportunity to see if much had changed over the last few decades.  “Unfortunately, many of the problems I identified in my first study remain. I wish I could say that American journalism had improved its approach to the coverage of race and ethnicity, but there isn’t much evidence to make that case,” he said.

The book signing is sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters and the Center for Black Studies at USM. Sherita L. Johnson, associate professor of English and the interim director of the center, will moderate the discussion.

“This will be an opportunity to acknowledge and interrogate pervasive racial discourses we often disregard living in what some would like to think is a ‘post-racial’ America,” she said.

For more information, contact Campbell, Jenkins or LeDuff through the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at 601-266-4258 or via email: christopher.campbell@usm.edu, kim.leduff@usm.edu, cheryl.jenkins@usm.edu.