As part of 21st Century Fox’s first-ever Inclusion Week, a company-wide global initiative to connect colleagues and spark conversation around the theme of Inclusion, television station FOX 9 Minnesota took the opportunity to engage in conversation about the state’s large Somali immigrant population and the media’s effect on perceptions about that community.
KMSP-TV station welcomed Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of the Minnesota branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, to its Minneapolis headquarters for a candid conversation. They discussed the local issues that colleagues and viewers face every day, and how the station can better represent and support the many minority and immigrant communities it serves.
“We have a responsibility as journalists to reflect the state of Minnesota in all its diversity and complexity,” said Sheila Oliver, FOX 9 General Manager. “21CF Inclusion Week’s focused theme about the power of inclusion provided a platform for conversation about the power we in the media have to influence audience’s ideas about our community and one another, and we were eager to take the opportunity to look at our own work and see how we can do better.”
Hussein, who led a nearly two-hour workshop with FOX 9 colleagues and reporters, shared how to better understand Somali American culture, as well as the role that local news media plays in creating and sometimes reinforcing stereotypes about the Somali diaspora.
Approximately one-third of all the Somali immigrants in the U.S. reside in Minnesota, with an estimated 74,000 Somali Americans living in the state (which has a total population of 5.4 million). According to Hussein, the station has enormous power as well as great responsibility to provide fair and balanced programming, given that it is often the primary medium through which people in Minnesota learn about Somali culture.
Hussein’s presentation complemented other FOX 9 events during Inclusion Week that highlighted the history of Minneapolis’ minority communities. For example, the station hosted an internal screening of North: At a Crossroads, a September 2018 documentary from the station’s Investigative Reporter Tom Lyden about the lasting damage that decades of discrimination, economic disenfranchisement and police violence have had on the African American communities in North Minneapolis. Following the screening, a panel from Lyden’s documentary shared what they are doing to help make positive change in North Minneapolis, such as initiatives to support black-owned businesses, provide greater educational opportunities, increase home ownership, offer job skills training and more.
In fact, as part of the screening and panel discussion, the station featured baked goods from Cookie Cart, a North Minneapolis nonprofit that employs young people ages 15 to 18, and showcased how the organization provides lasting and meaningful work, as well as leadership skills and career training.
The station also hosted a special screening of 20th Century Fox’s new drama The Hate U Give for all of its FOX 9 colleagues. The movie, which shows the possible effects on an African American community after the shooting of a black teenager at the hands of a white police officer, helped colleagues further explore different perspectives.
FOX 9 plans to continue engaging in meaningful conversations with colleagues and developing more inclusive stories that help drive positive change in its communities, according to Oliver.
21CF Inclusion Week, which took place October 15-19, brought together 45 speakers at events in nine cities across four continents. The week’s programming was made available by live stream anywhere in the world to all 21CF colleagues, making it arguably the largest-scale Diversity & Inclusion event in the media industry.