Monday, October 10, 2016

Diversity and Improving Journalism

Nathan Lors

As populations grow increasingly more diverse in America, so does the need for diversity in their newsrooms. Getting all different points of view from all different types of people is an essential component for journalism in a news organization.

Diversity in the twenty first century has to do with so much more than just race. Diversity encompasses including reporters of different color, gender, political beliefs, economic status, educational background, language, lifestyles, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, and many other aspects. If an organization’s news reporters seem to have all the same views and characteristics listed in the last sentence, then the news of that organization will reflect that. 

Diversity cannot simply be a quota where news rooms fill some of their lower level reporting positions with a few ethnically diverse people and call it a day. Diversity must be a conscious priority to not only the people who write stories, but also those in leadership positions and the people that are interviewed for stories. These details have a strong effect on news coverage and the way that it is delivered to the public.     pc/VG5DVZWswNI/AAAAAAAADGo/PgN2v_J7Goc/s1600/diversity.png

These problems will not just disappear with time, there needs to be an initiative from leaders in the field for an enduring change to take place.

As far as progress for diversity in race is concerned in the future, over 70 percent of undergraduate Journalism and Mass Communications students are white according to a study done in 2008 by The American Society of News Editors. We know that as a whole, progress has been made to make racial diversity in newsrooms better. This number is important because it shows how much work there is still left to do and how much attention needs to be paid in the future to achieve equality and diversity in newsrooms across America.

Women are also grossly underrepresented in newsrooms all across the United States. Women run only three of top 25 circulation newspapers in the United States according to PBS News. This is clearly an under representation in the media for women, especially since based on census numbers there are actually more women in the United States than there are men.   

Not only is it important for news organizations to hire writers, editors, and leadership positions with employees of diverse backgrounds, but it should also be a priority to retain these employees if there is to be a permanent change in journalism. According to the American Society of News Editors, retention of white journalists is at 86 percent, while for journalists of color it is only 78 percent. Since often times in journalism top positions are held by those having a long tenure with one company this could affect the diversity in newsrooms drastically.

Newsrooms and the beats they cover should reflect the entire community that they cover. To achieve this goal, newsrooms need the most wide-ranging voices, opinions, and experiences to make up the least biased and fairest coverage possible. Having everyone’s views accounted for develops community ties. Having a diverse work force in journalism gives the media organization an outlet to more community allies leading to better stories that are relevant to a larger portion of the population. Diversity is the right thing to do from a moral stand point but it also makes the most sense for the success of an organization, so what’s stopping us?

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