Award-winning journalist and television news anchor Soledad O’Brien provided insider insights under the theme Race and Opportunity in America at a lecture on March 8 at California State University, Northridge’s Valley Performing Arts Center.
O’Brien called herself “Afro-Latina,” meaning she is African, Cuban, Australian and Irish. Her background has allowed her to add context to her reporting — something not common in the industry, she said.
“Take a look at diversity in the media, there is no diversity,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien was the anchor for the CNN morning show Starting Point through 2013, and recently she has been a special correspondent for CNN/U.S. as well as other news agencies. During her career, she has reported breaking news from around the globe and produced documentaries. One of her documentaries, Black in America, featured a series of films aired over a four-month period.
During her presentation, O’Brien shared a few video clips from one of her documentaries with CSUN students, faculty and community members. The clips explored a high school where the majority of graduates — African-American students — attended college. The clips focused on Gloria, an African-American high school student with high hopes to attend college.
“I wanted to tell stories about individuals and the community,” O’Brien said.
She explained that the producer wanted to frame Gloria’s story around her parents, who were drug addicts. O’Brien disagreed, however, because she wanted to tell the story from Gloria’s perspective and not reinforce stereotypes.
“The real diversity is in telling original, authentic stories,” O’Brien said.