Traveling Installation Highlights Social Justice Issues in Advance of Media Ethics Workshop | School of Journalism & Mass Communication | Kent State University

Traveling Installation Highlights Social Justice Issues in Advance of Media Ethics Workshop

The concept of social justice covers a diverse collection of human rights and equality issues, challenging societies to see all people as part of a common humanity.

This year, the annual Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop (sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Media Law Center for Ethics and Access) is examining ethics issues journalists and communicators face when covering social justice in the media. As part of the workshop, a traveling installation, “Colors of Social Justice,” is traveling across campus, highlighting such diversity by asking the Kent State community what social justice means to them.

The large, 6x6-foot installation invites students, faculty and staff to tie on ribbons that reflect social justice issues they value. Each ribbon is a different color and represents one of 10 social justice issues: economic equality, immigration, LGBT equality, environmental, gender equality, health care, education, racial equality, criminal rights and human trafficking. A white ribbon is also available to reflect an additional issue that’s not already represented.

“To me, social justice means fairness, civility and dignity for all members of a community,” said Jan Leach, a JMC associate professor and director of the Media Law Center for Ethics and Access. “The community may be an organized unit like a city or state, or it may be a college campus or even the members of one class in a school or at a university. The ideas of fairness, civility and dignity then extend to everyone because of their shared experiences or their new concerns.”

Many of these issues will be discussed at the media ethics workshop, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 22, in Franklin Hall’s FirstEnergy Auditorium:

  • Keynote Speaker Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and immigration activist, will discuss why “#WordsMatter.” The founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that covers immigration and citizenship, came out as an undocumented immigrant in a New York Times Magazine article in 2011 and has since become a face for immigration in America.
  • Reporters and editors from Dallas and Orlando will discuss ethics issues related to social justice that arose when covering this past summer’s tragedies.
  • Reporters, activists and public health experts will discuss coverage of the Flint Water Crisis and environmental social justice.
  • Journalism and law experts will discuss safe spaces on college campuses.

Registration is required for professionals and educators and students who wish to attend all day. A live stream is also available.

“For the past few years, the ethics workshops have focused on a theme such as sports media ethics or the ethics of covering trauma,” Leach said. “This year the theme - social justice - is broad, but we're highlighting issues that have garnered a lot of media coverage such as gun violence, immigration, safe spaces. We can't get to all of it, but I'm proud to present this extraordinary lineup of speakers and presenters focusing on really timely social justice issues.”

Want to add your voice to the conversation? “Colors of Social Justice” will stationed at different locations throughout campus this week and next. On Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., it will be at Risman Plaza. Thursday, Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., it will be on front campus. And on Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., it will be at Eastway and Tri Towers. It will also be in Franklin Hall on Sept. 22, the day of the workshop.

What is the Workshop?

The Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop will take place Thursday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is a one-day training program for professionals, educators and students that examines critical issues and perspectives in media ethics. This year, the workshop seeks to examine the ethics of media coverage of several complicated topics such as immigration, safe spaces, violence and environmental inequality.

To register for the Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop, go to


POSTED: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 11:46am
UPDATED: Friday, September 23, 2016 - 9:54am
Haley Keding, '17