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Journalism Grad Student Brandi Griffin Addresses the Media’s Representation of People of Color on Co-op & in Published Poynter Article

Photo by Adam Glanzman

Brandi Griffin

Brandi Griffin is a graduate student in CAMD’s School of Journalism with a passion for writing. Recently, one of her articles was published in Poynter, exploring the media’s portrayal of communities of color. The themes present in this article resonate strongly for Brandi at her current job.  She is a co-op at WCVB-TV, where she works on their Cityline news, WCVB’s award-winning weekly magazine program which addresses the accomplishments, concerns, and issues facing people of color living in Boston and its suburbs.

We caught up with Brandi about her experiences writing and working in the world of journalism. Read more in her Q+A below.

Tell us a bit about your inspiration for your Poynter piece.

The Poynter piece started off as a class assignment where we were instructed to write a personal essay on a topic of our choosing. I’d recently heard about several incidents where news reporters used racial slurs regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and I wanted to somehow express the outrage that I felt as a result. This was essentially the birth of that piece.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of having a piece of your writing published by Poynter?

I think the most rewarding aspect has been the positive response that the piece received throughout the media community. The journalist that I mention in my writing, Monica Kaufman Pearson, reached out to me and invited me to the news station in Atlanta to meet her in person. Several other people in the field have reached out offering to help with my job search when I start looking for full-time employment. The piece was also talked about for weeks and shared over 300 times. It was the first time I ever got paid for a piece that I wrote, so that was a huge confidence booster as well.

You’re now a co-op at WCVB. What are your main responsibilities?

My biggest responsibility at WCVB is a long-term project; I will be producing my own show to air at the conclusion of my internship. I am excited to see it come together at the end of this semester. While I do spend a lot of time working on this, I still have other responsibilities. I normally get into work around 9:30, check my emails and check WCVB’s social media. If it’s taping day, I have to make sure the script is laid out, refreshments are in the green room for the guests, and pictures are taken for social media promotions. I’ve also edited videos, written questions for in-studio interviews, gone out in the field for shoots, logged tape, helped with the upkeep of social media presence, and pitched different story ideas. Every day at the station is different.

At a news outlet like WCVB, there are dozens of stories broadcasted every day. What are your favorite stories to cover and research? 

I work specifically in Cityline, which aims to highlight stories in communities of color around Boston that wouldn’t typically get covered. We’ve done shows on everything from natural hair and health in the black community to the Oscar-nominated movies that had predominantly black casts. I enjoy working for this department specifically because news outlets have a tendency to represent communities of color in a negative light (which I discussed in my Poynter piece) and Cityline is really trying to combat that. My only wish was that this positive representation was shown throughout all aspects of news, and not just the Sunday afternoon show.

Do you have any other notable experiences that you feel were instrumental in gaining experience?

I co-founded and co-host a podcast through WRBB called Black In Boston. Being able to create content on a weekly basis, highlight my different experiences in Boston, and share those with others is a great experience. This semester, I’m also TA for a class called “Race and Class” where we discuss how the media represents these issues. Working under Professor Jonathan Kaufman, exploring race and class in depth, and also gaining an impression of how others think about and discuss these topics has been extremely rewarding.