I am taping this event and will be liveblogging. Here’s some background information.
From the Comm Week Web site:
News Coverage of Civil Rights in Miami
Panelists representing print and broadcast media will review the media’s coverage of civil rights issues from efforts to desegregate schools and public facilities to beach “wade-ins,” protests and riots that plagued the community on into the ’80s. How aggressive was the local media in covering the civil rights movement? What was it like for the first black reporters at Miami’s newspapers and television stations?
C.T. Taylor, first black TV news reporter in Miami
Bea Hines, former reporter, The Miami Herald
Juanita Green, former reporter, The Miami Herald
Andrea Robinson, reporter, The Miami Herald
Garth Reeves, publisher emeritus, Miami Times
Bradford Brown, former president, Miami-Dade NAACP
Moderator, Beverly Counts Williams, former TV news reporter
Garth Reeves‘ father founded the Miami Times, but he didn’t want to go into the newspaper business.
“One day you’ll find out how valuable this newspaper really is,” his father told him.
After he took over the Times, the younger Reeves began to face tough issues regarding coverage, but the paper had to be restrained in what it published.
“You were practicing journalism with your hands tied behind your back,” he said. “Now we have more kickass journalism. … I’m happy now because you’re as a free as bird.”
C.T. Taylor grew up observing what was going in the community, reading the Miami Times and seeing its impact.
“I always wanted to be in journalism. I always wanted to be a radio announcer.”
He sat with his father and listened to games on the radio. Despite the obstacles, his father said you he could do anything he wanted to do.
“The doors to the media were shut and bolted” at white stations, he said. “But I kept my hope and desire.”
So, he went to a black radio station and they hired him to be a cleaner. While he wasn’t on the air, he kept at it and it paid off. One night, an announcer was drunk and didn’t show up for work. Just like that, he was the radio.
Eventually he became known as C.T. “The undisputed soul of the new breed.”
But he wasn’t satisfied–he wanted to be a TV reporter.
His chance, though not in front of the camera, came when a TV station wanted to hire him as a cameraman.
“I managed to get my black hand in the shot. Then I got a black ear in a shot, then I got the back of my head into the shot.”
Channel 4 saw this and wanted to put him on the air.
“It does not matter what your gender or what your race is,” he said. “The main thing is to be factual and truthful.”
You’re recording history, Taylor said, so you have to get it right.
Bea Hines said that, while they may have hired Taylor to cover the riots, people accused her of starting the riots with her coverage while at The Miami Herald.
Her first day at The Herald was an interesting experience.
Hines went into the lunch room and everyone stopped eating. She went up to a Hispanic food worker who was impressed; he couldn’t believe she worked there.
She was assigned to cover the riots in the early 80s because she knew the community. As she walked around, she ran into a man in a pool hall whose business was suffering as a result of the riots.
“My name is Iceberg Slim and I got hookers on the street,” he told her–and there was her first story–and it ran on the front page.
But her overall role was more difficult: “I had to change the way people saw us and the way people depicted Liberty City.”
“They did what they had to do,” Brad Brown said of the journalists on the panel and their contemporaries. “They changed things.”
The NAACP in South Florida used to dissect stories in The Herald and gave TV stations lists of black doctors to have a variety of experts.
“It’s not just the truth, but the broader truth” that’s important.
NOTE: I stopped liveblogging to take some photos toward the end and unfortunately missed some great comments by The Herald’s Andrea Robinson. I will be sure to go back and add them to this post or include them in a video package.