Art by Madeline Duvall
“Community” is one of Pepperdine’s biggest buzzwords. Students hear it used every year and somehow it finds new meaning as time goes on. Whether the “community” restores a garden, stands for unity, or remembers a student, this conglomeration of individuals finds a space to “unite” on one common goal.
The world today is one where one media outlet doesn’t tell all the news that happens in a week. It is a world where one can barely process what happens in a day. As the pace of news and media quickens, misunderstandings can become rampant. A need for deeper engagement follows — a place to break things down and ask further questions in person. This semester, Pepperdine Graphic Media is making a commitment to be more involved in fostering understanding with the Pepperdine community through a town halls series.
PGM strives to find new and innovative ways to connect the Pepperdine community to issues that affect them. As a group of student journalists, PGM tries to emulate the professional environment of a modern-day newsroom, breaking stories as soon ethically possible. However, there is not really space to reach a further level of understanding.
Last fall, PGM hosted the DACA town hall. The national news in regards to DACA was changing every day. Both administrators and students found it hard to follow the changes. As administrators worked to release statements on how DACA would affect Pepperdine and students kept up their busy schedules, a gap of communication about DACA and its implications for the Pepperdine community formed. The town hall served to bridge that gap by having the administrators explain the statements they released and students ask questions like “Can I be a Christian and a patriot?” and “What can I do to help?”
Since the 2016 election, millennials have seen direct community engagement as more impactful than political engagement, according to a 2017 poll conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Throughout history, local media outlets have sponsored spaces of community engagement through events. For example, the Los Angeles Times hosts an annual Book Festival, the New York Times hosts various conferences on special topics and even South by Southwest was started by the Austin Chronicle in 1987.
PGM’s first town hall this year is on civic engagement. President Benton and representatives from the American Council on Education, the panelists for the event, hope to discuss DACA, net neutrality, the tax bill and the Higher Education Act and how they affect Pepperdine.
PGM’s Mission Statement explains that the various platforms are a place to “serve the community with news, opinion, contemporary information and a public forum for discussion.”
The key highlight of the mission statement is the verb “serve.” Firstly, service is a Pepperdine core value. Secondly, journalism, at its heart, is a public service. One of the roles of journalism is to foster discussion by providing a forum and committing to “improve the quality of debate” through “verified information and intellectual rigor,” according to the American Press Institute.
Through this town hall series, the hope is that PGM’s coverage on bigger topics like DACA along with the discussions that exist on social media and face-to-face discussions will bleed out into a traditional public forum.
However, the discussion cannot happen without the community showing up.
The community is encouraged to attend this town hall series to work to understand the world together. The powerful thing about bridging gaps of knowledge is that they can be bridged by asking simple, clarifying questions. Fear is the only thing that can stop someone.
After understanding the issue better, it is then up to each member of the community to ask themselves if it’s more important to speak up about how an issue affects them or listen to the others who are affected, in an effort to learn from our neighbors.
It is very easy to disconnect and disassociate from one’s community because of misunderstandings, but the world is moving into a place where it needs the voices of the every-day because they are crucial to change in our communities. The best and most effective way to create change and innovate is to do it together.
PGM’s first town hall is this Thursday, Jan. 25 at 7pm in PLC 106 (formerly PLC 125). All are welcome.