Friday, September 27, 2013

Responsibility to Diversity

Rachel Link

A current issue in the field of journalism is the lack of diversity in print and broadcast organizations. Fewer minorities are getting job opportunities in the field, which affects the news content and coverage. According to the article in The Atlantic, journalists of color feel that their voices are not heard, their story ideas are not validated and that there is little room for them to advance in the field. Dori Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, said that the news media and the nation are moving in two separate directions.

Lack of Diversity Creates Limits

Journalists should feel a sense of responsibility to deliver a diverse range of news content and coverage to the public. We should feel a need to empower and reflect the different minorities that make up our audience.

Maintaining a staff of only a few select backgrounds within a news organization, regardless of the medium, limits the news content. A diverse workforce in the media with a variety of different backgrounds and experiences opens up a broader spectrum of thought and is more likely to be representative of the public. 

The news media should aim to report on a wide spectrum of topics and experiences that will be relevant to society at large. When people feel that they can relate to the news and see themselves reflected in the coverage, they will be more engaged. Therefore more diversity within a news organization could lead to greater audience engagement and possibly reach a broader audience.

Diversity Starts With Us

Internal diversity within a newsroom staff is the first step to creating a more diverse news organization. Journalists should be committed to creating as diverse a staff as possible, so that people from different backgrounds and cultures can communicate their insights and bounce story ideas off of one another. The way that one person from a select background views something could be completely different from how someone from a different background views it.

For example, an article from the Columbia Journalism Review discusses how white feminists viewed Michelle Obama's decision to give up her career and become a stay at home mom as disappointing, while black feminists saw her decision as revolutionary, because in the past black women were denied the opportunity to choose to stay at home and care for their children. 

Source: Huffington Post

A more diverse workforce in a news organization will allow for different viewpoints to be heard and a variety of perspectives to be recognized. This could lead to the breakdown of unconscious stereotypes and a more accurate representation of different cultures in news coverage. 

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