Making News: Adding Diverse Voices to Mainstream Media

May 18, 2021

At 6:30 pm on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, please join the Friends of the Pembroke Center and four distinguished Brown alumnae for this timely virtual panel which will look at how journalism and the media have evolved in recent years to include more diverse perspectives and reporting that centers race and gender. We will explore this current media moment, its significantly broader lens, and how it reflects fundamental, parallel changes in our culture and politics. We’ll also delve into how we got here, where we're going, and why it matters. 

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Amy DuBois Barnett '91, SVP and GM, Digital, BET Networks, Moderator

Amy DuBois Barnett is an award-winning media executive, has held senior leadership roles at Time Inc, Hearst, and Disney, and has also successfully grown several independently owned media brands. In her current role as an SVP and General Manager at ViacomCBS, Barnett has P&L ownership of BET’s digital platforms, and is responsible for all aspects of the creative vision and business strategy.

In her prior two years as EVP, Digital of Entertainment Studios and theGrio, Barnett increased monthly video views by 600% and the social footprint by 250%. Barnett also led the development and launch of ESPN’s critically acclaimed digital brand, The Undefeated.  Before ESPN, Barnett was Editor-in-Chief of Ebony where she redesigned the magazine and website to critical acclaim.

Prior to Ebony, Barnett was the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Chief Editor of Teen People, and Editor-in-Chief of Honey magazine.

 Amy concentrated in French Studies and Political Science at Brown, has an M.F.A. from Columbia, and in 2014, she served as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Barnett is the author of the NAACP Image Award-nominated book, Get Yours: How to Have Everything You Ever Dreamed of and More. 

Francesca Donner '99, Gender Director, The New York Times

Francesca Donner is Gender Director and Editor of In Her Words at The New York Times. In Her Words, is a three times weekly column which examines women's issues globally. Areas of coverage include politics, economics, business, culture, family, work -- all through a gender lens. Previously, Francesca was the director of Times Insider, which took readers behind the scenes of Times journalism while elevating a culture of candor and transparency. Before she joined The Times, Francesca was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal, where she covered the business of management and worked on digital newsroom strategy. Francesca concentrated in English and American Literature at Brown and received her MA in Journalism from Stanford. 

Shefali Luthra '14, Reporter, The 19th News

Shefali Luthra covers health care and inequity at The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom that covers the intersection of gender and policy. Previously, she was a correspondent at Kaiser Health News, where she spent six years covering national health policy. Her work covering health worker safety for KHN's "Lost on the Frontline" coronavirus series received a Batten Medal and a Headliner Award, and her contributions to a KHN-NPR health care billing investigation were recognized by the Online News Association. She has also reported for The Texas Tribune, covering the Affordable Care Act, campaign finance and reproductive health care.

Shefali's work has appeared in outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and NPR, and she has appeared regularly on national radio and political panels as a health policy expert. She concentrated in English literature while at Brown, worked as a Writing Fellow, and was editor-in-chief of The Brown Daily Herald.

Rinku Sen '88, Author, and Executive Director, Narrative Initiative

Rinku Sen, Executive Director of Narrative Initiative, is a writer and social justice strategist. She is formerly the Executive Director of Race Forward and was Publisher of their award-winning news site Colorlines.  Under Sen’s leadership, Race Forward generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes of recent years, including Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets changing their practice. She was also the architect of the Shattered Families report, which identified the number of kids in foster care whose parents had been deported.

Her books Stir it Up and The Accidental American theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems. As a consultant, Rinku has worked on narrative and political strategy with numerous organizations and foundations, including PolicyLink, the ACLU and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. She serves on numerous boards, including the Women’s March, where she is Co-President and the Foundation for National Progress, publisher of Mother Jones magazine.

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