Presenting the 2018 Charles Benton Junior Scholar Award

Adrianne B. Furniss

I am thrilled to return to TPRC to present the winners of the Charles Benton Early Career Scholar Award.

Deeply embedded in the DNA of the Benton Foundation are three key values: access, equity, and diversity.

Today we celebrate a paper that, we feel, makes an important contribution to communications and media policy literature. We know that communities of color face complex challenges achieving equitable outcomes. This paper delves into why.

There are a couple of takeaways here that I’d like to highlight. First, communities of color – and the organizations who advocate on their behalf – are not a monolith. There are robust debates within and between groups as they plan their own digital futures. Secondly, the authors argue that critical race theorists and other social scientists are desperately needed to complement and deepen communications debates, in the interest of a more democratic communications ecology.

I, for one, take this diversity of viewpoints to be a strength. What is motivating these groups to get involved in communications policy debates? What advocacy strategies work best for them?  What are the implications for how we want policy decisions to be made?

This paper discusses three specific examples that are timely and interesting, and the authors, Matthew Bui and Rachel Moran, reach their own conclusions. But, perhaps even more importantly, they move forward a discussion, a very useful discussion, that I believe must continue.  

Communications policy – if rooted in access, equity, and diversity – has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides. But bridges have strong foundations on both sides of the divide. And bridges are not built in a day. They require an inclusive process, an honest discussion, and a willingness to connect.

I invite you to read Race, Ethnicity, and Communications Policy Debates: Making the Case for Critical Race Frameworks in Communications Policy.

Thank you, Matthew Bui and Rache Moran, for your submission and your contribution to the field.

And thank you to the Charles Benton Early Career Scholar Award Committee: Robin Mansell (Chair), Roberta Bambauer, Jon Gant, Jon Peha, Colin Rhinesmith, and Johannes Bauer. This was an inspired selection.

Adrianne B. Furniss is the Executive Director of the Benton Foundation.

By Adrianne B. Furniss.