Journalism Professional DeWayne Wickham Calls on Students to ‘Tear Down Barriers’

Wickham spoke during his Listen Up! Series lecture on the ongoing struggle for journalism to present truth 

In an effort to better address diversity, inclusion and accessibility, the College of Fine Arts and Communications has been hosting professional guest speakers in an inspirational lecture series. The Listen Up! Series started last semester, and each lecture within the series is sponsored by a different department within the college. 

On February 4, students from the college participated in the third event of the series with journalism professional DeWayne Wickham. This lecture was hosted by the School of Communications and the BRAVO! series.

During the webinar, the School of Communications associate chair Dale Cressman introduced Wickham to the listeners. Wickham is the founding dean of the School of Global Journalism and Communication. He is the author of three books and several articles and is also the founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists.  

To begin his lecture, Wickham discussed the history of journalism. He dove into historical stories of journalism media that spread both helpful and harmful news.

“Media can play a supportive and helpful role, or it can play a role that injures not only people but the notion that this is a fair and equitable society,” Wickham said.

Wickham expressed the need for current journalism students to learn the right questions to ask and to distinguish between commentary and news.

“It is a journalist’s responsibility to report the fact truthfully and represent the truth about the fact,” said Wickham. “There is a place for commentary, but it ought to be identified and distinguished from news and ought not to overshadow the presentation of news.”

As he continued discussing the challenges of journalism, Wickham described one way that he learns truths about current events.

“I wake up every day mad about something, and then I challenge myself to find information on that thing that has irritated me,” he said. “I am my best news source.”

Wickham invited listeners to be their own best news source and expressed the need for our country to bridge the gaps people create from their differences.

“We have to find a way in this country to tear down the barriers that separate us. We have to tear down the barriers that make us Blacks and whites and divide us by religion and ideology,” he said. “We have to stop connecting to people simply because they are fellow travelers in some ideological way, and we have to ask the tough questions.”