A Historical and Journalistic Perspective from "Little Rock Nine"

By: Breana Albizu

I thought this panel offered an interesting take into the discussion of the "Little Rock Nine" with Dr. John Kirk, a Race and Ethnicity director who gave a historical viewpoint, and Philip Holsinger, an American photojournalist who gave the viewpoint of a photographer. Somehow, this oddly perfect line-up contributed to learning about the role journalists play in documenting the stories of those within marginalized societies.

Holsinger noted the tricky, and often risky, component to being a photojournalist. While is it their literal jobs to capture them, photos are eventually two-dimensional. Particulary in certain times, event photos mark a specific time in American history, which contributes to the important in the role of these skilled journalists. Unfortunately, two-dimensional photos have the possibility of putting people in a certain light (good or bad). However, they also provide a great deal of context for people that weren't able to be present at a certain time to witness the event. 

Photos capture the moment; historians contextualize them.

The media does the framing for the audience. As with the captured elements of the "Little Rock Nine", sometimes the media is not the best at covering the full story of marginalized members, who are often susceptible to exploitation because of their desperation. Journalists tend to lack awareness of societal problems, such as racism and inequality, and the problems that occur when they frame certain issues. 

As a native to England, Dr. Kirk notes that the American media have a specific role in society. They often reinforce world views that have been already constructed by society rather than challenge them. Holsinger then adds that journalists need a broader perspective for covering their stories and to essentially "Be the change you want to see in the world."