Monday, October 10, 2016

Acceptance of Diversity in America Begins in the Newsroom

Andrea Wurm

The journalism community is the backbone of democracy and truth in this country. In recent events, newsrooms and journalists alike have been tested of this. They have been tested of their credibility, their ability, and, unfortunately, their honesty. If our news outlets are not transparent, then what is democracy as we know it?

The transparency aspect of the ethical dilemma within journalism begins with not where the information is being sourced, but with the person behind the pen. Newsrooms have an obligation to reveal who their journalists are and where they come from. The ethical obligation behind this contributes to this "backbone" being held accountable for their efforts in creating a diverse and progressive environment that stretches beyond the racial spectrum of black and white.

Newsrooms are becoming more diverse for the first time in the past 14 years, according to the American Society of News Editors. However, much work is to be done. People of color make up about 17 percent of staffs at daily newspapers. At print publications, about 28 percent are women. This isn't necessarily something we should be proud of.

According to Elise Hu, an international correspondent for NPR, "It is not about making sure you have people of color sprinkled throughout, but fostering a newsroom in which the people who many not think like the dominant group feel like their voices are heard, and that they matter."

While the data shows otherwise, Hu contributes to the question of why things aren't moving forward. The increase in minority groups in the newsroom doesn't account for anything if their opinions are not of value.

Every great journalist knows that if there's a problem, there's always a solution or an answer. The following article in the Columbia Journalism Review gives solutions to how a newsroom can not only grow in numbers in terms of diversity, but how they can be proactive to make sure every voice is heard.

The most important contribution from the CJR article is that we must address these problems straight on. We must admit that double standards are prevalent, and that a change will not come without these efforts.

Our news outlets are a direct correlation of how we are progressing as a country. Without their efforts to maintain a level of diversity, how can we progress as citizens of a democratic nation?

This political cartoon is satirizing how we have a tendency to think we are being diverse when we are forgetting that diversity is a spectrum from race to beliefs to gender and we cannot forget to represent all forms.

In the article Changing the Culture, it discusses the questions and problems that lie in the NiemanReports article "Newsrooms Need to Engage if They Want to See Real Change." The main issue is that stories involving race shouldn't have to be justified through a person of color telling the story. I believe that this idea will regress our efforts in creating a diverse media.

It all comes down to the importance of building the relationships amongst the employees in the newsrooms, despite their race. Newsrooms and the journalism community needs to fill their newsrooms full of diverse people who are going to be able to tell stories that fulfill the spectrum of diversity that makes our democratic country so great.

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