Ever since journalist Aaron Farrar graduated from Rutgers in 2015, he has worked for a variety of newsrooms and has consistently been one of the only African American reporters on staff. He currently works on the WFXR morning show in Roanoke, Virginia as a news reporter and anchor.
Throughout his career, Farrar said he began early on to realize that he would either be the only Black reporter or one of the very few on staff, and he said this has made him feel pressure to prove to others that he is as capable of doing the work as anyone else on staff, and to show that there should be more representation of the Black community in every workplace.
It also led Farrar to believe that news outlets can have a greater impact on changing the current culture by including more diverse angles in news stories so the voices of people from a variety of cultural backgrounds can be heard.
Farrar said journalists need to work harder to balance their sources to include the voices of different races in their stories. He said that news stories that include a variety of ethnic groups can play an important role in helping foster a greater understanding among people of different races.
“When you have a melting pot filled with different faces of different colors on one topic then people will say that okay there are opportunities of diversity in this one group instead of saying white people do this or Black people do this,” said Farrar. “I think that this will also challenge people to be open minded rather than staying in the way they think—which may not even be healthy or right. That’s why it is important to have diversity in your coverage.”
Commenting on the Black Lives Matter movement, Farrar said he thinks that recently it has been better at creating change than it has before. He said he thinks in the past the people supporting the movement really needed to voice their thoughts more.
He said until now, the true message of the movement has never been clearly understood because not enough people of all races were open minded about the movement’s purpose and goals. “I think now with having so many other allies coming together with Black Lives Matter, I think it's helping people to at least start trying to open up and seeing that there is a stronger message behind it,” said Farrar.
To create lasting racial change, Farrar said people of all races need to become more engaged and involved in their local governments so they are aware of what is going on in their own communities before they venture out and try to handle matters in a broader way. Farrar said going to their own city and town council meetings is a great way to learn what’s going on locally and to hear the voices of their neighbors.
Farrar said his family inspired him to pursue a career in journalism. His cousin is a reporter and he shadowed him one day, and this was the day that jump-started his journey to become a journalist.
He said he has faced many challenges during his journey and he admits that he has made mistakes. He said during his time writing for The Daily Targum as a Rutgers student, he misquoted people causing the story to be inaccurate. Also, sometimes it has been hard for him to ask difficult questions in interviews while remaining unbiased. Despite all that, he said it’s still not enough to convince him to try something else because his journalism career provides him with satisfaction, happiness, and peace.
“I love the adrenaline rush of trying to get information out to people,” said Ferrar. “These challenges and experiences have helped me become a better journalist.”
The many skills he took away from SC&I as a Journalism and Media Studies major, he said, include multitasking, time management, working with tight deadlines, being open to listening, and being a critical thinker. The two classes he said he enjoyed the most were Television Reporting II and News Writing and Reporting. He said if he hadn’t taken those classes, he would not be able to do the job he is doing today.
Farrar said he loved his time at SC&I and Rutgers. He felt that SC&I made every student feel like they mattered and was given a fair share of attention. He said he never felt like he had to worry about being overlooked or overshadowed by someone else.
He also said he thinks that Rutgers as a whole has something for everyone. “If I had to go back to school and do it all over again, I will pick Rutgers every time,” Farrar said.