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DePaul Hosts Community Journalism Event in Honor of Juneteenth

Judith McCray meets with a student in an office.
Judith McCray, an adjunct faculty member in the College of Communication, meets with a DePaul student. (DePaul University/Jonathan Aguilar)
​​News organizations and mainstream journalists don't often tell stories of communities of color, and those they do tell tend to focus on the same storylines or sources, says Judith McCray, an adjunct faculty member in the College of Communication and a diversity faculty fellow in the Center for Communication Engagement.

"Building relationships is often overlooked, not necessarily intentionally," McCray says. "By having a relationship that doesn't feel extractive to members of the community, there's a lot more resources and information shared with journalists, which allows for a bigger perspective and better stories."

Creating a healthier dynamic — bridging the gap between journalists and communities of color by connecting them with BIPOC community organizations — is the focus of a June 17 event McCray is organizing, "Reclaiming Our Narrative: A Community-Building Event for Changemakers and Journalists."

The afternoon workshop at the Student Center on the Lincoln Park campus will open with a panel discussion examining successful collaborations between community groups and journalists. One such example is the "Change Agents" podcast, which McCray co-produces with Maurice Bisaillon; it includes stories from students in the Social Justice Reporting class at DePaul.

Participants will also hear from foundations on funding opportunities for media collaborations. Public Narrative, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to having all voices represented in media, will lead a session on how to pitch stories to news organizations. A concluding reception provides a forum for community organizations to pitch their stories to news outlets.

McCray's company, Juneteenth Productions, and Public Narrative are co-hosting the event along with the Center for Communication Engagement and the Steans Center. She planned the workshop around the United States' first federal celebration of Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when the country's last enslaved people were freed.

"We're recognizing Juneteenth now as a national holiday to take a moment to celebrate not just the freedom of all African Americans but also our responsibility for understanding this history," McCray says. "Given that, and the question of how journalists can do our jobs even better in exposing hidden truths and showing stories of empowerment and of justice that affect all Americans, it seemed to me to be a perfect time for this event."

The June 17 event will run from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees must register online, and lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Mary Hansen is a manager of strategic communications in the University Marketing and Communications division.​
Originally posted in Newsline​.