© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'The Art of Storytelling' celebrates the need for diversity & representation in journalism

The Art of Storytelling will take place in Milwaukee this evening.
MKE Film
"The Art of Storytelling" will take place in Milwaukee this evening.

Milwaukee Film’s Cultures & Communities Festival is underway, and outside of the films to see there’s also plenty of community events to be a part of. One of them is “The Art of Storytelling - Exploring Narrative Craft and the Ripple Effects of Representation,” happening tonight.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter James Causey will be moderating a discussion with a panel of esteemed local journalists of color to talk all about the power of representative storytelling, including Ron Smith of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Milwaukee PBS producer Everett Marshburn.

Smith says he first got involved in journalism as a high school student witnessing the Chicago Public Schools strike. "There was no one asking students what the problems were except [for our student newspaper]. And so, we did a five month investigative project looking at how public schools could be improved," explains Smith. "That really taught me about the agency of having a voice at the table and to be able to not only have a voice at the table, but to listen [to] and amplify that voice."

Marshburn got involved in journalism in 1968 while attending Morgan State University. Between his junior and senior year, he was hoping to find a summer job with the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting. All that was available was an entry level, full time position that he landed that eventually turned into a host and producer job. He says, "I've been doing news, public affairs and producing ever since."

For both storytellers, their paths to this career led them to a space that is vital and necessary. "I always say that it is not my job. It's my joy," notes Smith. "Because I get to do a couple of things. One is that we get to ensure that people see the totality of our communities of color in Milwaukee. Oftentimes, stories regrading people of color are presented in a negative way because it garners attention from audiences." So, Smith enjoys the opportunity to celebrate diverse cultures as well.

"We get to ensure that people see the totality of our communities of color in Milwaukee." - Ron Smith, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

"Just to being able to help find the stories that matter of the people who matter. As an African American man, there's not many spaces that allow that. So, I'm really grateful for Milwaukee for supporting that," he says.

"It's something that I know I was chosen to do, and I take that responsibility very heavily," adds Marshburn. "It's important because what we really don't see is enough representation from all of the diverse elements in our own community. And that is extremely important."

He continues, "I find that people are people. But we don't really get to hear the stories because so much of what we see in media is chasing events and chasing tragedy, and there's so much more to the human condition than that. And when it comes to people of color and minorities in America, our stories don't really get told in in a way that everyone can understand them. And I think it's important that we let people understand that."

"The Art of Storytelling" is free and open to the public tonight at Sam's Place Jazz Cafe located at 3338 N. MLK Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53212. Panelists include Milwaukee PBS producer Everett Marshburn, Radio Milwaukee audio storyteller Salam Fatayer, TMJ4 News anchor Shannon Sims and Project Director of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Ron Smith. Doors open at 5:30p with the event beginning at 6:30 Tickets can be reserved here.


Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
Related Content