Callie Crossley

Callie Crossley.

Award-winning journalist, commentator and public speaker Callie Crossley will participate in a conversation about the legacy of civil rights leader Malcolm X at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Wabash College’s Baxter Hall 101.

The event — “Malcolm's Legacy Today” — is free and open to the public. Wabash is home to the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies, founded during the 1970-71 school year. 

Crossley worked at WTHR in Indianapolis in the 1970s before going to ABC News, where she became a producer for the news program “20/20.” Crossley has since worked at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and has been a contributor and commentator for Fox News.

Crossley joined Boston-based NPR member station WGBH in 2009, where she hosts a weekly radio show, “Under the Radar,” and provides weekly commentary during “Morning Edition” on Mondays.

Growing up in Memphis, Crossley’s family regularly consumed and talked about the news, but there was an obvious lack of coverage for issues affecting African Americans. They subscribed to the Tri-State Defender, a weekly African American newspaper.

In her radio show, Crossley turns to alternative media and community news that tend to get overlooked by larger media outlets.

There’s a “constant push to have newsrooms that look like America,” she said, because lived experiences help tell more accurate stories and inform the public.

“There’s only one truth, but there are many perspectives,” Crossley said.

The larger media outlets — sometimes called legacy media or mainstream media — are largely white and male.

Asked if she’s worried about those outlets going after stories that are important to minority communities but ultimately not doing them justice, Crossley said minorities have spent a lot of time learning about the majority, so the majority should learn to do the same.

Crossley added that sometimes journalists don’t actively ignore race; they just don’t see it.

When it comes to the long-term survival of media outlets, Crossley said public and private media — she’s worked for both — have essentially the same tasks in front of them: They have to keep consumers coming back and remind people why it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on around them.

Though the conversation at Wabash could go in any number of directions, it will be that same sense of accountability that Crossley said she wants to instill in those who show up at the all-men’s liberal arts college.

“My message always is you have to stand up, and you have to stand up even when it’s tough,” she said. “… I think with college students, much has been given to them because many people can’t be on these campuses.” 

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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