Using communication to prompt change

As a double-major in journalism and communication arts, Malik Anderson is discovering the power of creating and working to bring more diverse voices into media.

February 16th 2017 | Alex Bonus
Social Sciences, Students
Back to News
Photo by Michael Trevis, Department of Communication Arts

Malik Anderson’s personal mantra is “to create is to live.”

From his three-year stint as an intern at Wisconsin Public Radio, to his work as co-founder of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s first chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the Emma Bowen Scholar is inspired to produce work that effects social change.

“Creating art and media that has a social justice element to it is essential to life for me,” says Anderson. “Just as essential as eating or breathing.”

As a double-major in Communication Arts and Journalism and Mass Communication, with a certificate in digital studies, Anderson’s time at UW has been prolific, with professional and artistic work spanning the media spectrum. He has written for online newspapers like The Madison Times and Madison 365; produced radio programs like The Larry Meiller Show; and even worked as a photographer for the play Jungle Kings during the university’s first Multicultural Theater Festival.

Many of these opportunities were afforded to him through the Emma Bowen Foundation Scholarship. The program, which awards scholarships to minority college students who aspire toward a career in media, connects promising candidates with industry internships. For Anderson, this led to work at WPR, as well as an array of networking opportunities at national conferences that inspire his creative endeavors on campus.

“Working at Wisconsin Public Radio has been one of the most valuable educational experiences in my college career,” he says. “Experiences like that one, whether it’s interning somewhere or making connections with someone in the field you hope to go into, are opportunities for self-discovery. It’s so interesting to see what knowledge you gain outside of the classroom and be able to apply realistic examples of concepts brought up in various courses. I think my experiences interning reaffirmed my passion for the media industry.” 

Creating art and media that has a social justice element to it is essential to life for me. Just as essential as eating or breathing.

However, something deeper unifies Anderson’s well-rounded resume: issues of identity and diversity. “When we talk about bias in the media, we don’t often take into account that there are factors in our stories that are missing,” says Anderson. “There’s a crucial human element that is ignored when we don’t acknowledge identity.”

His concerns about representation solidified when he noticed his cohort in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication was comprised of only four other black students: one woman and three men. This realization motivated him to start the NAJB, a campus group that aims to connect journalists of color across campus to collaborate on projects and discuss issues about media diversification.

“When the media reflects our identity, it means that much more,” he says. “I’m glad to be part of this new era of journalism that’s becoming more reflective of that.”

He is particularly grateful for his Communication Arts education, which supports his interest in critical media studies around topics of race and sexuality. “It’s fun for me because I can analyze my own identities and how I relate to media,” Anderson says.

These experiences have led him to his most recent project: a podcast that aims to bring new voices into the public media discourse.

“We want to spotlight people who aren’t reflected in normal media — to get people who don’t look like us to engage in important conversations,” he explains. “Not just talk about having a conversation, we want to actually have those conversations.”

Anderson is not yet sure what he wants to do after he graduates next May. He says he might go to graduate school, or he might take time off to pursue work that inspires him. Whatever he does, he knows he’ll be creating. “

I don’t know who I would be if I didn’t create things,” he says.

Story courtesy of the Department of Communication Arts.