Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Diversity in Media: Why It's Important

Kristopher Perez

As journalists, why is diversity in our coverage important?

Diversity has been a huge topic within the media lately. Murders of people of color and those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community are often the first headlines we see in newspapers or on TV screens. 

Where are the stories of the African-American entrepreneur who started his own business in a growing city? 

Where are the stories about the children of Latino immigrants who are graduating from Ivy League schools? 

Where are the stories about members of the LGBTQ community giving back to the less fortunate?

The point? The media has to paint the whole picture instead of sticking to one side of a person. It's our duty to report the truth and provide the public with the whole spectrum. Without this complete coverage, media outlets can influence the public into believing the victim is a "thug" or criminal, and a lot of the time, this is only done when the person is in a minority group.

Diversity is important in media, because without it, the public isn't able to see those who belong to minority groups in a different lens. With coverage of people of color committing crimes or doing something wrong, how else are people going to see certain situations?

The media has a responsibility to be fair, balanced, truthful, accurate and transparent.

Diversity in the newsroom.

PC: Greenberg Art (,%20Media/)

Diversity is important in stories, but it's also important for viewers or readers to see in terms of who is writing these stories or covering an event on the nightly news. Tia C. M. Tyree, a professor at Howard University, made a statement regarding diversity inside of the media in an article by the Associated Press' Jesse J. Holland.

"It matters who the owners are, it matters who the producers are, it matters who the editors are, because that's often the agenda or the slant of the media and the news coverage."

Tyree's point is absolutely correct. The more the public sees African-Americans or Hispanics or Muslims or any minority group covering the news, the more diverse the readership and the stories will become. These different perspectives will contribute to the news stories and allow readers to see the article through the eyes of someone who truly understands.

Journalists have the power of words.

Our stories can impact many different communities, especially those of targeted minority communities. Our ethical responsibility is to give the public the whole story, or as SPJ puts it in their code of ethics, provide context. Without context, our stories can become jumbled in meaning, and create a harmful atmosphere for the subjects of said stories.

For example, depictions of Muslim individuals in a story can cause people to believe that every Muslim is a terrorist, a thought process that causes the murder of innocent people for no apparent reason, such as the bombings in mosques in France after the Paris shootings.

Journalists also have an ethical responsibility to minimize harm, but if we're producing stories that are providing the wrong context and painting the wrong picture, we're hurting not just one person, but a whole group of people.

Diversity and journalism walk hand in hand, and in today's society, diversity is something lacking. It's up to journalism to bring it back.

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