From diversity to elitism, Tanzina Vega’s journalism career has previously taken aim at the intersection of race and class. The journalist is now the host of WYNC and PRI’s “The Takeaway,” a public radio news show heard on St. Louis Public Radio from 11 a.m. to noon.
On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Vega about her team’s vision for “The Takeaway.” In addition to hosting the show, Vega will be involved in its editorial direction.
Three of the main themes Vega said she plans to address are “wealth, truth and empathy gaps” in the country.
“As we all know, Americans are increasingly polarized and divided and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that we live very separate lives,” Vega said. She aims to see the show facilitate conversations that are “going to help close any and all of these gaps.”
She touched on the direction journalism is heading and whether its objective is to give people what they need to know versus what they want to know.
“I do think that we as journalists have to continue to be a bit tempered about what we think is a story and what we don’t ... but I think the landscape has absolutely changed,” she said, referring to the rise in digital media and the ability of audiences to engage with journalists.
She explained how she intends to expand “The Takeaway’s” efforts to connect with audiences by engaging them more through social media — by asking questions and getting feedback on topics not yet discussed on air.
Diversity in newsrooms
“We’re still not seeing newsrooms that reflect the communities that they serve,” Vega said.
When it comes to inclusion, diversity in newsrooms and journalism coverage, Vega said other kinds of diversities need to be implemented besides just employing people of color.
“We also need to have people from different socioeconomic backgrounds,” she said. “With all of these unpaid internships and low pay, it’s very difficult for people to get into the [journalism] field.” She explained how the lack of coverage of middle-America for many years left many Americans underrepresented in the media, and which partially led to their resentment of the media.
“Newsrooms were knocking themselves out because they felt that they hadn’t done enough to cover that population and that they had been focused on the coasts and big cities,” she said.
Vega also offered her opinion on the state of social media and how to deal with the divisiveness the platforms can bring. She said she takes time to be aware of how stressful information overload can be and takes breaks from social media. However, she does see the immense good and connectivity it can bring.
“Yes we are very disillusioned; it is a difficult time right now. But despite that, I think all of us can hopefully have a laugh here and there,” she said.
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.