Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Makeup of the Newsroom: Why It Matters

Abigail Gryzik

Kevin Merida, managing editor of The Washington Post, said, "You have to think about the makeup and the mix... Do you have enough people who came from different religions? People who grew up poor? People who grew up rich? People who are of every ethnicity and every race and are young and veterans? That's really why you want to have a diverse newsroom: Because we're in the business of explaining people to each other. How can we do that if we don't have enough variety in our newsroom?"

Photo courtesy of Edelman's creative newsroom archives

These truthful and inspiring words embody the reality we face daily as writers. Whether it comes from the eyes of a journalist or public relations specialist, how are we to fully understand what is going on in our world without all perspectives being considered? We, as individuals, each endured our own troubles, successes, and ways of living growing up.

How can you be sure that the man standing in front of you for coffee has endured the same? They haven’t. What about the woman sitting next to you in the subway station at the crack of dawn? I bet you don’t know her struggles, and she probably doesn't know yours. We all have unique minds, mentalities, and experiences that we have collected throughout the course of our lives. I think as newsrooms and writers, we have a duty to tell the truth. The truth is that no one is the same, and news shouldn’t be reported that way either.

After reading the articles regarding diversity in the newsroom, it got me thinking. Since the majority of people feel like they are unable to relate to the daily news, what is it that we are reporting? Is it the 100% truth, or skewed from what seems like one person’s perspective?

Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times goes into depth in this article about why we should care. When I dove into the topic to learn more about the topic, I also came across the following infographic called Newsroom Diversity regarding the election in 2012:

Infographic courtesy of the 4th Estate: Special Reports

This is just a few years old, but can you believe this?

I believe that extremely large steps need to be taken along with action, and I think leaders of newspapers are seeing it as imperative. According to the NiemanReports article about why newsroom diversity works, they are being taken. Within the piece, a spotlight is on the Journalism Diversity Project . Views of the News discusses JDP and how it elevates conversation on the topic:

This growing project gives me a bit of hope to see action being taken right now. They feature various journalists and storytellers from around the globe as a resource to those seeking employment in addition to hiring managers. Not only is it a resource, but it is powerful enough to increase diversity in the newsroom forever.

Photo courtesy of The Journalism Diversity Project (JDP)

I still feel as though any newsroom will not be able to face their harsh reality until they take a look at their individual percentages. One can claim they have “a diverse newsroom” all they want, but until a newsroom’s reporters, team members and coworkers come from all sorts of backgrounds across the board, the company is lacking the essence of journalism: telling the whole truth.

This is a problem that I hope to see eliminated entirely. The whole truth is what we, the writers and public relations specialists of our world, stand for.

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