Thursday, April 28, 2011
Covering Diversity Starts from the Beginning
Practice What You Preach
As I have always believed diversity starts from the very beginning. Though extremely cliche but perfectly fitting people should "practice what you preach." The same holds true for journalists and the diversity of their coverage in the media. As journalists or people in the media producing field we should hold ourselves to a higher responsibility to create and cover important news stories for everyone. You cant exactly cover a diverse range of news stories unless you are truly diverse yourself. The perfect example of a media outlet that practices diversity was discussed in some of today's readings. The Seattle Times is ranked as one of the top two newspapers in the country for representing diversity. They excel above others in creating and covering stories of interest to all people in Seattle and are deserving of the recognition they receive. They believe that practicing diversity starts from diversifying the news room where the news is created. To see their commitment to diversity visit their web page.
Less Focus more Depth
Although there are instances of exceptional diversity in news coverage we still find some room for improvement. What I think should be more importantly understood is not that we make sure to represent different races in the media, but how we represent different races in the media. In today's article "Why the race debate is far from over" by Yumi Wilson we read and consider multiple aspects of racial and diverse coverage in the media. As the article discussed we need to stop narrowly focusing on certain aspects of race and covering them. Instead we need to incorporate diverse coverage in new and different ways. The best example of turning the focus of a news story from purely racial to something deeper and more meaningful is the coverage of hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of Katrina the potential for moving and important news stories were numerous. However, the coverage that resulted from this seemed slightly one-sided and too focused on racial aspects. In a Time magazine article about the press, race, and hurricane Katrina the overwhelming uniformity of articles and images were centered around African Americans. Even though they were being represented in the media coverage of Katrina the focus was still too strongly on race and lacked perspective on the amazing stories that could have been told.
It's Not What You Do, but How You Do It
The most important thing I think I took away from today's readings is that it's not just what you do to recognize diversity in the media, but how you do it. You can publish stories and pictures of people from different racial backgrounds and call it diversity or you can actually cover stories with depth and meaning about and for people of all different races and truly accomplish diversity. Essentially we all turn to media outlets for coverage of issues important to us. To really start diversifying the media we must diversify the way we think of the world around us and accept that our country has a need for multiple perspectives. When we can focus on diverse issues without focusing solely on the color of someones skin we will achieve a diverse media outlet.
I want to leave you all with a little clip from an interview between Morgan Freeman and Mike Wallace from 60 minutes. Mike Wallace asks Freeman to voice his opinion about black history month. I think his response is perfect for this weeks topic of covering diversity. Wallace tried to focus the interview on Freeman's racial identity as an African American and Freeman provides the perfect response leaving Wallace looking rather frazzled. Freeman basically states that he doesn't want a black history month because black history is American history. It's representative of my point that we shouldn't just focus on one certain aspect of a story because of someones race. Anyway, here is the interview gem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeixtYS-P3s