Sunday, September 27, 2015

Diversity: What the Media Lacks

David Haddad

I think it would suffice to say that I have already proven my overall distrust in the field of journalism. There seems to be so many issues facing the occupation as a whole, affecting its perceived reliability.

To say that the issue of a lack of diversity in the field is a new issue or trend would be false. The media has a long history of being whitewashed, as well as predominantly male. The problem isn’t that there is a growing homogeneity; it’s that the homogeneity still exists.

The value of diversity in the United States is growing at a rapid pace. This trend shows no signs of stopping, considering there will be no statistical majority race in America in the near future.

Wouldn’t it be important, therefore, that the media, the great voice of the people, reflect this? The field of journalism is over 86% white. Minorities today feel considerably isolated alienated by the media. A Media Insight Project survey found that three-quarters of African Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics do not feel that journalists properly represent their minority communities.

I think it is hard to disagree with the dissenting opinion of American minorities. The media has received heavy criticism for its covering of the many recent race riots, specifically in Ferguson and Baltimore, reporting it more like scared white people than actual journalists covering an important chapter of the history of American racial discourse. Too much TV coverage was focused on the looting and flying bricks and police altercations and not enough on the message of the protestors.

via CNN

The Hispanic people, some feel, have not been given the benefit much lately either, with the standing public perception of illegal immigrants seeming rather negative. The media may not be fully to blame for this, but they are sometimes guilty of perpetuating it. Media watchdogs have had to get creative  in combatting this image and pointing out the many positives of the influx of Latino migrants. 

The media isn’t to blame necessarily for the underrepresentation of minorities. You can’t hire someone who doesn’t have interest in the job. Journalism can’t help that the profession attracts white males. However, by poorly representing minorities (in the eyes of those minorities, at least) the media is likely turning many ethnic youths from the practice.

If the media wishes to strengthen the diversity of the newsroom, it must first be more sympathetic to minorities in their coverage of race-related issues. If I were the head of a news outlet, my idea to combat this issue would be to employ an academic who is well-versed in race relations in American and the history thereof, who would be able to advise our publication when stories regarding race come up. This would hopefully result in more balanced and considerate storytelling.

Diversity is high on the priority list of the media, and has been for quite some time. However with the growing diversity of the country itself, and the fact that the media is already well behind, journalism definitely has some catching up to do.

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