Journalism class examined past coverage by the World-Herald on race

Monday, February 20, 2023 - 9:45am

During the spring 2022 semester, a class of College of Journalism and Mass Communications students examined past coverage by the Omaha World-Herald to determine if the coverage was true, fair and accurate.

In the fall of 2021, former Omaha World-Herald editor Randy Essex approached Shari Veil, dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications, about partnering on a project to examine past OWH reporting to determine if racism existed in its coverage. Dean Veil agreed and quickly tapped two of the college’s faculty, Joseph Weber, Jerry and Karla Huse professor of news-editorial, and Shoun Hill, Buffett-Mangleson-Sartore Chair of Photojournalism, to teach the course.

“The project presented a tremendous opportunity for the college,” Veil said. “Our students gained a deep understanding of bias and racism in reporting, while helping the state’s largest newspaper examine its history and improve its practices.”

The class was conducted as an independent investigation. The Omaha World-Herald assisted in archival research and the editors deferred to the students and faculty in the course’s examination of past coverage.

Twenty-one students ranging from freshmen to graduate students, took the course. They worked together to identify which topics to focus on, including past historical events and eras. “We sought to cover topics from Wounded Knee to George Floyd,” Weber said.

The Omaha World Herald linked to 18 student reports in the article "UNL journalism class explores World-Herald's past coverage of race" by Christopher Burbach on Dec. 18, 2022.

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