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Release: Immediate

UI journalism professor wins national human rights book award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Venise Berry, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Iowa, has won a national human rights award for her book, Mediated Messages and African-American Culture: Contemporary Issues.

The Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America is presented annually to authors of the best scholarship on the subject of intolerance in North America. In Mediated Messages, which Berry co-edited, 20 leading scholars and critics tackle complicated and controversial issues regarding the images and messages about African Americans in movies, television, music/radio, and print. Despite the fact that the number of images and messages is increasing, the scholars report that many messages remain problematic.

In her introduction to the book, Berry writes, "Stereotypical ideals and attitudes have been formed and solidified over decades into accepted ideologies and norms about African-Americans. Although I don't believe that the media have an all-encompassing power or control over their audience, I do recognize that they serve as a primary source of communication in this country, and, therefore, their images and ideals can affect specific people, at specific times, in specific ways, depending on the context of the situation."

The Myers Center was founded in 1984 with the intent of continuing the research into intolerance started by Gustavus Myers in his 1943 work, History of Bigotry in the United States.. To this end, the center works to identify, award, and publicize outstanding books about all kinds of intolerance in North America.