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 Kent State University 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 traversing campus, highlighting such diversity by asking the Kent State community what social justice means to them.

The large, 6-by-6-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: criminal rights, economic equality, education, environmental issues, gender equality, healthcare, human trafficking, immigration, LGBT equality and racial equality. A white ribbon also is available to reflect an additional issue that is not already represented.

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 nonprofit 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, Michigan, water crisis and environmental social justice.
  • Journalism and law experts will discuss safe spaces on college campuses.

Registration is required for professionals, educators and students who wish to attend all day. A livestream also will be available.

Want to add your voice to the conversation? Colors of Social Justice will be stationed near Eastway Center and Tri-Towers residence halls on Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 4-6 p.m. It also will be in Franklin Hall on Sept. 22, the day of the workshop.

The Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop 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 workshop, visit

POSTED: Monday, September 19, 2016 08:57 AM
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2016 08:57 AM