Local black journalists share their stories at BSU panel 

Felicia+Rolfe%2C+Kendra+Douglas%2C+Braxton+Jones%2C+Mayo+Davidson+and+Angela+Smith+form+the+%22Black+in+Media%22+panel+hosted+by+the+Black+Student+Union.+
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Local black journalists share their stories at BSU panel 

Felicia Rolfe, Kendra Douglas, Braxton Jones, Mayo Davidson and Angela Smith form the

Felicia Rolfe, Kendra Douglas, Braxton Jones, Mayo Davidson and Angela Smith form the "Black in Media" panel hosted by the Black Student Union.

Eduardo Castillo

Felicia Rolfe, Kendra Douglas, Braxton Jones, Mayo Davidson and Angela Smith form the "Black in Media" panel hosted by the Black Student Union.

Eduardo Castillo

Eduardo Castillo

Felicia Rolfe, Kendra Douglas, Braxton Jones, Mayo Davidson and Angela Smith form the "Black in Media" panel hosted by the Black Student Union.

Wichita State’s Black Student Union hosted a panel Wednesday for local black journalists to share their perspectives on working in the news industry. 

The panel was comprised of several local reporters, producers, and anchors, including KSN’s Kendra Douglas and KWCH’s Mayo Davidson, Felicia Rolfe, Braxton Jones, and Angela Smith. 

Each panelist explained the challenges they’ve faced as racial minorities in the news industry. 

Jones, a news and sports reporter for Channel 12, said the most difficult thing was finding the right place and time in which to fit his stories.

“I think a [specific] story is absolutely a great deal, but not everybody does,” Jones said. “You have to realize we’re not only serving the Wichita-metro area, but also the farmer in Dodge City.

“Not everyone is going to have the same opinion as you, so you have to learn where you can feature your stories.”

Now a digital reporter and content producer, Davidson started out as an intern at KWCH in 2017. 

At first, she said she was intimidated by not seeing a lot of people who looked like her. Smith, the station’s digital content manager, made her feel welcome. 

“Having talked to Angela [Smith], and then having Braxton [Jones] come in, they really encouraged me,” Davidson said. “I would say it’s important to encourage and lift each other up.”

The entire panel stressed the importance of having minority representation in the news media industry. 

When she first started nearly 13 years ago, Smith said she was one of the only black people at KWCH. She has since pushed for minority representation in the newsroom. 

“We went from being a station who had all blonde women as reporters, to a more diversified newsroom staff,” Smith said.

She said it’s important to have people from minority communities in the media industry so their stories are not going untold. 

“You hear the saying, ‘If you’re not at the table, you don’t have a say,’” Smith said. “If you’re not in the newsroom, then you don’t get to control what is put on air.  

Rolfe, a weekend morning anchor and reporter for KWCH, said she remembers when each station only had one racial minority if any. But she says the diversity is more visible now.  

Having returned to Wichita recently after a few years in Houston, Rolfe said she was shocked how much the stations had improved in terms of diversity. 

“I’ve seen it just evolve into really making a change with the diversity at stations across the board. You now see more minorities on TV,” Rolfe said.

Douglas, a sports reporter and anchor for KSN, recalled being the only black woman reporting at a Kansas City Chiefs Game. She said it was important to be confident and establish herself. 

“One thing that I did and learned from other individuals was to just start talking, interacting, and making it known who I was,” Douglas said. “I’m not just some cameral girl or communications person in the background on TV. I am the weeknight sports anchor, and that’s a big deal.” 

The panel comes as a second black journalist in Kansas City was let go from their job after accusing a TV station of racial discrimination. Last month, KSHB 41 Action News Sports Anchor Dee Jackson’s contract wasn’t renewed after he sued the station for racial discrimination and retaliation. 

The first lawsuit against KSHB was filed in 2016 by Lisa Benson Cooper, who worked at the station for 14 years. The court ruled against her claims of racial discrimination but in favor of her retaliation claim, according to KCUR.

Jackson’s jury trial is scheduled for February 2020.