Monday, April 25, 2011

When are Minorities, no Longer Minorities?

Melissa Pennington
It’s been roughly a half century since the Civil Rights Movement and the United States and its media are still struggling to include and relate to diverse or minority populations. At what point will we all agree that minorities are no longer minorities at all? What is the deciding factor that will prove to the US that discrimination is no longer an issue? Is this goal even possible?

It is the journalist’s responsibility to inform the public—which necessarily means that not every citizen is a journalist (because there would be few or none left to inform). That said, the journalist-to-individual ratio places a large responsibility on the journalist to report the news in a way that includes as many people as possible in the most diverse way he or she can. Does this require that minorities be left out simply because they, by definition, do not represent the majority perspective?

More importantly, should the news have a perspective?

Yes, because if news is not relevant or mildly interesting, it has little value to its audience. As many people as possible deserve to be adequately represented and heard in the news.

What if we have a false idea of who the majority is? In “Making the Business Case for Diversity,” the author cites a statistic stating that Blacks and Hispanics are more regular television viewers than whites, often considering a gathering around the television family entertainment. Still, a relatively recent article in from the Huffington Post reports that the ASNE has been noticing a decline in minority newsroom journalists from an already disappointingly low percentage.

Integrating more minority participants and journalists could only further a journalist’s goal of informing the public. Diverse ideas, perspectives and knowledge are necessary to keep anything from newspapers to tabloids alive.

Some organizations, such as New American Media, focus their efforts toward a goal of multiculturalism and diversity, hoping to gradually increase the levels of minority participation and content creation. Univerisities and classrooms have begun to study the different ways that different cultures and ethnicities interact with their news. Below is a video clip from a class at the University of Kentucky. In this class, the professor has her students research which minorities or groups tend to use social media platforms as news media and why.

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