For generations, journalists and professional communicators have learned to brush aside race and other societal constructs to focus on the hard facts of the story. But what happens when race is the story?

Recognizing the need for cultural reporting curriculum in media schools, and in an attempt to start an ongoing dialogue about race and reporting, the West Virginia University Reed College of Media and the West Virginia University Center for Black Culture and Research are co-hosting a panel discussion and workshop on September 17 and 18.


The panel event, “More Than a Beat: Race, Reporting and the Role Media Professionals Play in Narrative Creation,” will be held Thursday, Sept. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Room G21 of Ming Hsieh Hall. The panel will focus on the importance of race and cultural reporting in today’s media landscape, and the role media and communications professionals play in the creation of narratives that affect these and other societal issues.

Attendees will hear firsthand accounts from the reporters who covered this year’s biggest stories including the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer; the riots in Baltimore, Maryland, following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody; and the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is Charleston, South Carolina. Panelists will provide advice to young and upcoming media professionals interested in breaking into cultural beats along with best practices around how to cover these and other hot-button issues. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Panelists:

Chelsea Fuller is the senior communications associate for Youth Criminalization with the Advancement Project – one of the nation’s leading civil rights and racial justice organizations. In her role, Chelsea works to monitor and deconstruct harmful narratives pertaining to our nation’s youth of color. Her work has included providing on-the-ground communications support and training to organizations fighting against the ongoing state of police aggression and intimidation in Ferguson, Missouri. Prior to joining the Advancement Project in 2015, Fuller was an Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellow at FleishmanHillard International Communications in Washington, D.C., where she was a member of the firm’s public affairs team. Previously, Fuller worked as a reporter and copy editor at The Dominion Post in Morgantown, West Virginia, and was editor-in-chief of The Urban Outlook, an online publication focused on news and issues affecting the nation’s underrepresented populations. Fuller is a co-founder of the WVU Association of Black Journalists and the WVU NAACP.

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter for the Washington Post, where he covers issues of race, justice and law enforcement. He previously covered national politics for the paper and was its lead reporter on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protest movement. Prior to joining the Post, Lowery covered breaking news and politics for the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times and is a former board member of the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2014, he was named NABJ’s “Emerging Journalist of the Year.”

Ryan J. Reilly is The Huffington Post’s Justice Reporter, covering the Justice Department, law enforcement and legal affairs, with an emphasis on criminal justice reform and civil rights. He has been covering the intersection of politics and the law since 2009, previously reporting for Talking Points Memo and before joining The Huffington Post in 2013. Most recently, Reilly has been covering the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Errin Whack is an award-winning journalist and commentator on race and politics. Whack is best known for her work covering civil rights icons including Ambassador Andrew Young, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Congressman John Lewis and the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr. She recently reported on the Michael Brown case and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, as an on-the-ground correspondent for Fusion. Whack’s work can be seen on NBCBLK, in POLITICO Magazine and on She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR, MSNBC and the Soul of the South. Whack is the former Vice President of Print for the National Association of Black Journalists and frequently comments on issues of media diversity. Her reporting on the 2008 presidential election was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and she further distinguished herself during the 2012 election for her voter-focused reporting. In 2009, the Atlanta Press Club recognized Whack as Print Journalist of the Year, and she was named NABJ Emerging Journalist of the Year in 2006. Prior to becoming an independent journalist, She worked as a state government reporter for the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

Doug Mitchell will moderate the panel. He is a consultant and project manager for National Public Radio based in Washington, D.C. Mitchell founded and continues to lead NPR’s program for finding and developing young people called “Next Generation Radio.” He also has served in three international fellowships including the Fulbright Scholar program. Mitchell is an adjunct instructor for Georgetown University’s Master’s of Professional Studies program in Washington, D.C., where he takes students to New Mexico on a journalism expedition to find and tell stories of Native American people and culture.


This two-part event will resume Friday, Sept. 18, from 9:00 a.m. to noon with a workshop to help journalism and communications students understand the roles they play in creating and perpetuating narratives. The session will include short presentations by each of the panelists followed by small-group exercises dealing with writing on the race and culture beat, unconscious bias and the significance of understanding historic and cultural context of the communities they cover. Breakfast will be provided, and participants must RSVP.

Details for both events are on the WVU Reed College of Media and the WVU Center for Black Culture and Research websites. Join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #raceandreporting.



CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, WVU Reed College of Media

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