2019 Blog (2)

Mizell Stewart, CQS, Power Shift Project

Mizell Stewart III, a senior director at Gannett and the USA TODAY Network, talks with a group of scholars during the Power Shift session on workplace integrity. Stewart and Sonya Gavankar, director of public relations for the Newseum, presented the program.

Editor’s note: The orientation and multimedia training program for the Summer 2019 class of Chips Quinn Scholars was held at the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tenn., May 13-19. As part of their training, students blogged about the conference and aspects of journalism.

2019 Blog 2

What was the main takeaway for you from the Power Shift session on strengthening intern preparation in a #MeToo world?


Garrett Ammesmaki
The Power Shift session made me realize how important it is to be an ally, regardless of the situation.

Héctor Arzate
My main takeaway from the presentation was the idea of being an active bystander. Everyone has a different approach to dealing with conflict, and you never know how someone will react if you need to de-escalate a situation. But you can still step in. Whether you choose to distract someone, directly confront the person causing the problem, or delegate, you can always intervene in a harmful situation of sexual harassment and be an ally to others.

Siandhara Bonnet
My main takeaway from the Power Shift session was to not let fear get in the way of coming forward with concerns or the truth, and instead to let courage guide you. Even when situations may be scary, it’s important to speak your mind because you may end up giving other people the courage to come forward with more information or context.

Joseph Choi
People often like to talk about the existence of a gray area between the personal and professional, especially in an impassioned workplace like a newsroom. But the presentation made clear that there is, in fact, a distinct line and that employees, regardless of their position in the company, should be able to recognize it. What stuck out to me was the emphasis on active bystanders and collective objection by a workplace, which reminds me of the importance of allies.

Alexis Clark
The #MeToo movement has spread badly needed awareness around the world. A valuable takeaway from the Power Shift session is that it is important to be aware of your surroundings, which means being smart about your decisions, standing up for your rights, and being fearless, regardless of the circumstances.

Gabrielle Cooke
My main takeaway from the #MeToo discussion was learning how to deal with some harassment situations in the workplace. Previously I was unsure about how to go to the human resources department if sexual harassment were to occur. Hearing different scenarios also opened my eyes as to how we can help those around us who might be struggling with workplace harassment.

Irena Fischer-Hwang
The “be smart” rule particularly struck me as good advice but also as being somewhat vague. The Power Shift session – which overall I found to be interesting – addressed the fact that many of us come from cultural backgrounds in which social customs might differ from the expectations and interpretations of behavior in “general American culture,” whatever that may be. It would be helpful to have a list of specific examples of actions, invitations and phrases that can carry nuanced interpretations (for example, a dinner invitation implies more intimacy than meeting for coffee). It would also be useful to have concrete suggestions for dealing with such overtures and situations and for starting a professional relationship with a potential mentor figure. (For example, if you receive a dinner invitation, you can subtly determine whether it’s a request for interacting on a professional or personal level and respond with phrases like, “How about coffee instead?”)

Ava Garcia
My main takeaway from the Power Shift session was that it’s important to be proactive and have conversations about #MeToo-related topics in the workplace early on. The session showed me how these conversations can serve to make sure everyone is on the same page. The session also underscored the importance of colleagues supporting each other in the difficult situations that can arise during and from these conversations.

Nugesse Ghebrendrias
My main takeaway was learning how to handle a situation involving coworkers and the human resources department. My group had to role-play the “Marty in the Party” scenario, and simply analyzing the issue’s different angles and trying to find the proper solution was important. As someone who plans to work in a newsroom, I can’t overlook these issues and need to be prepared.

Leslie Ignacio
The main takeaway for me from the Power Shift session was to be proactive. It’s important not only to stick up for yourself but also to be a friend to others who might encounter anything inappropriate in a newsroom. Also, I thought it was important for us interns to know it is OK to reject any offers that involve meeting outside of the workplace or that might make us feel uncomfortable.

Zoë Jackson
My main takeaway from the Power Shift session was that courageous conversation is a necessity in newsrooms. While no one loves conflict, it is important to face these issues head-on and to have productive conversations around sexual misconduct and harassment. Ignoring these tough topics only leads to further systemic discrimination and unsafe situations for those who are just trying to do their jobs.

Sonya Gavankar holds the microphone for Gabrielle Cooke (left) and Juliana Kim as they perform newsroom roles.

Juliana Kim
My main takeaway is that there are systems in place for people such as women or interns to be empowered in their newsroom.

Isabel Lohman
My main takeaway from the  Power Shift session was that some bosses may still not be well-versed in the topics of sexual misconduct and harassment. Because of that, sometimes it’s up to the interns to jump-start a change in their newsrooms.

Dani Matias
Misconduct in the workplace is often excused or overlooked because it doesn’t meet the requirements of illegality, so interns need to create boundaries and understand how to effectively address their concerns with human resources staff. The #MeToo movement solidified the importance of uniting with allies, being proactive and speaking up against abusers of power. The Power Shift session taught us that change starts with having a conversation and taking action to prevent similar situations in the future.

Anthony Merriweather
The main takeaway for me was importance of understanding the policies in your newsroom to better tackle the issue of sexual misconduct and harassment.

Edward Moreno
I didn’t realize before the presentation what it meant to be an ally. It takes more than just believing someone and telling them they should say something; you have the power to say something with them.

Lorenzo Morotti
My main takeaway from the Power Shift is that someone who experiences or witnesses sexual harassment should report the incident. This is important because investigating the possible misconduct usually takes a long time, and immediate reporting prevents people in positions of power from getting away with unprofessional behavior.

Nirmal Mulaikal
The main takeaway for me was the importance of being proactive and an ally. All individuals can face harassment or misconduct, and it’s important to identify and communicate about this behavior early on with colleagues, friends and the company’s human resources department.

Clevis Murray
The main takeaway for me was how attentive the entire Chips Quinn Scholars class was. Everyone took the session seriously by asking questions, taking the conversations seriously and having fun with the skits.

Riane Roldan
My main takeaway from the Power Shift session is that addressing workplace sexual harassment is part of a process to tackle a larger system. We are all learning and we all have something to contribute. Sometimes we will want to call out, other times call in, and still other times be humble and open enough to check our own behavior — and all of that is OK.

Olivia Sanchez
I am grateful for the Power Shift session and the fact that we are in a program with leaders who recognize the severity of sexual misconduct in the workplace and are working to make the field safer for us. I was particularly struck by the way Mizell Stewart III, a senior director for Gannett and the USA TODAY Network, defined “courageous conversations.” When he said they are “values-driven conversations in the face of potential conflict,” I realized that this is basically what we are doing every day in journalism. If we can do it every day in our work, then we should be able to do it when workplace integrity is on the line.

Margo Snipe
While I have had a number of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment trainings, I felt like my peers got a lot out of this training. Going to the human resources department, in practice, is a lot more difficult than we let on. I would also feel less inclined to go to HR if I knew that I was the first to report a person for sexual harassment. The person would know I reported it, which would make the work environment much more uncomfortable moving forward. If something is done that makes me that uncomfortable, I am open to having a direct conversation with the person who offended me.

Tsanavi Spoonhunter
My main takeaway from the Power Shift session is about finding your voice and building allies. As an intern, it’s hard not to speak up when you feel things are wrong, but you can address your issues by following the chain of command. In addition, it’s important to build strong work relationships so that you have the support needed to address your concerns in front of your peers and authority figures.

Kalaisha Totty
I enjoyed each person’s perspective on how to approach conflict because there is no one way to do it, nor is there necessarily a right or wrong way. It’s important to know who your allies are in the newsroom, to nurture those relationships and to never feel discouraged or that the situation will never change.

Rebekah Tuchscherer
The Power Shift session taught me that, despite the isolation or helplessness we might feel as interns, there’s always an ally somewhere. Forming strong connections with company reporters and editors can make the reporting process easier, even if that means speaking with human resources staff.

Jared Weber
A main takeaway came in the discussions that followed the presentation. Several people were discussing micro-aggressions, and fellow scholar Héctor Arzate mentioned the idea of “calling people in” instead of “calling them out.” In other words, explaining to them why a comment is insensitive instead of publicly shaming them for making the comment. This is a productive way of advancing the public conversation around race and identity, and it would likely help prevent conflicts as well.

Laura Zornosa
The main takeaway for me from the Power Shift session was that victim blaming will always exist, even in the capacities where we are trying to fight it. A lot of the “reactive” solutions – including the idea that “no one wanted to have the courageous conversation” – still felt like they weren’t taking into account the victims’ feelings and unique situations. Maybe a victim wanted to have that conversation but did not feel safe or comfortable doing so.

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