Journalism Speakers Forum Asks Attendees to Consider “Both Sides of the Camera”
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Bellisario College of Communications’ weekly Journalism Speakers Forum hosted a seminar entitled “Both Sides of the Camera” on Tuesday evening.
The presentation was led by Penn State professor and award-winning photojournalist Will Yurman. It also featured community activist and educator Rosalind Pichardo and documentary filmmaker Tony Heriza.
The focal point of the conversation was about the role and responsibility of journalists when it comes to documenting the stories of marginalized communities, specifically in Kensington, Pennsylvania.
Kensington, where Pichardo has lived her entire life, is a town in Philadelphia that is known for its high amounts of drug abuse.
Pichardo understands and realizes the problem in her community and knows that it needs attention from the media. However, she wants journalists to cover the positive side of the town as well, as she feels like it is oftentimes overlooked.
“For me, using certain words like addict, or junkie or zombies… these languages are not OK,” Pichardo said. “Just knowing that these are human beings just going through some stuff—an active addiction. I want people to see the good things.”
The seminar then led into Heriza presenting a video from a documentary he had been working on that showed another side of Kensington. It depicted an art studio where artists in the neighborhood could come in and treat it as a safe space.
“People could walk in without real qualifications,” Heriza explained. “The only thing was if you came in, you had to treat people kindly.”
Heriza uses this as an example to transition into an open and ongoing conversation about how outside journalists, like himself, come into a place like Kensington and start to cover a story they are not close to and might not know much about.
“The question is how can cameras or writing or telling stories do good, because there are stories to be told, and how can you minimize what might be harmful to people who live in the community or who are on the street?” Heriza said.
Heriza, Pichard, and Yurman then invited the audience to a Q&A session.
Emily Grill is a freshman studying broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.