By Dana Sutcliffe & Emily Long – Digital Editor & 1851 Staff
De Witt Hall welcomed Christa Case Bryant, a Heartland Correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, on Thursday Nov. 15 for “Why Conservatives Feel Marginalized on Campus and Beyond.”
Bryant kicked off the event by elaborating on her previous work in a Palestinian village – an adventure that inevitably opened her eyes to the world. Bryant spent three years living in Jerusalem covering relations between Palestine and Israel. While in the Middle East, Bryant came to the conclusion that “objective” journalism is unrealistic so long as it is being carried out by humans.
Upon returning home, her viewpoint shifted to a localized approach – specifically college campuses. She was working with the Christian Science Monitor, a non-profit news organization, during the 2016 Presidential Election. Bryant began working on the National news side of the organization that same year. Her editor recalled her work in Palestine and her ability to work with groups with very different ideologies and thought that she could do the same in America.
Although areas of the Heartland tend to lean liberal, Bryant said one of the things that hit her the hardest was seeing the stereotypical portrayal of conservatives. Supporting her point, she told Lasell students about a filmed interview for the New York Times featuring a man in rural America who supported Trump. “He had no teeth and didn’t look very presentable,” said Bryant. “He was the exact caricature of what you’d believe Trump country would be like.”
The stereotypical “hillbilly” depiction of a conservative male forced Bryant to ponder why this news source chose this individual to represent the Republican party. The story provided an example of why she believes society and the media play a role in shaping our viewpoints. She made the point that fingers shouldn’t always be raised at Washington – the media can sometimes be just as powerful. “What I’m trying to do is represent all opinions,” she says. “It could be Democrats who voted for Trump or conservatives.”
Bryant continued to say that her focus now surrounds micro-partisanship on college campuses, and firmly believes it’s a concentrated issue of the broader picture in our country. Her work with the Christian Science Monitor has helped her to combat stereotypes by making videos about controversial topics.
One example focused on gun control. Bryant told a story about a man who owned a gun shop in rural America and in one week sold three weapons that were used to commit suicide. The store owner supported Second Amendment rights but also supported using guns in a safe and appropriate way. The coverage of this focused on suicide prevention and shootings. “I wanted to bring these ideas to the heartland of America, or typically conservative states, and get in tune with issues that people care about,” said Bryant.