Thursday, April 28, 2011

Covering Diversity

Alex Stuckey

In a newsroom, diversity issues come up a significant amount because the United States is a melting pot. Unless you are in an extremely small town, there will, without a doubt, be people of different races, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Because of this, covering diversity in a neutral way is extremely important.

Like it or not, most media outlets are run by white males so diversity problems can easily slip through the cracks because the white males aren't looking for issues with unbiased wording. Unbiased wording is one of the most important aspects of journalism, especially when writing about people who are different from you. In the article called, "Undocumented or illegal," the issue of unbiased wording is discussed.

In the article, the use of the phrases "illegal immigrant" or "illegal alien" are addressed. The author is basically saying that the lose of those phrases connotes negative feelings toward the people in question because, in our society, we equate the word illegal with immoral and wrong. Because of this, associations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls the AP Stylebook to change the style to "undocumented immigrant." Even of word alien has a negative connotation that should be curtailed.

Although I had never thought about it before, I now see that this phrasing can immediate put bias into a story without the reporter even realizing it.

To be completely honest, I think that, while the article does have a lot of good points, it doesn't address an even bigger issue — most people in America believe that "illegal immigrant/alien" is synonymous with Mexicans, even though there are plenty of illegal immigrants from other countries.

According to a MSNBC article, make up 58 percent of the illegal immigrant population. While that is more than half, other races and ethnicities make up 42 percent, which is nothing to dismiss. Because of this statistic, I think that the AP Stylebook should make it so that the ethnicity of the illegal immigrant is talked about in the story so that snap judgments are not made.

Overall, I do think the wording needs to change to help media outlets become less biased because of the negative connotation associated with the words. But I also think that is not enough and that the ethnicity of the people should be included — that is something that needs to be talked about.

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