Monday, October 10, 2016
A Diverse Perspective for Change
Imagine life without the invention of the refrigerator, the traffic light, the furnace or even the potato chip. Each of these inventions advanced technology and changed the way we saw the world for the better. African Americans were the ones who created these inventions and without them, we would not be where we are today.
Of course, not every inventor is a white, non-diverse male. People of all cultures, races and entities have created life-altering inventions that we still widely use. Just as people of all cultures have developed powerful inventions, they have the potential to bring fresh perspectives to the newsroom.
It is shocking to find that people of color only make up 17 percent of newsroom staffs and that is an improvement, as it is the highest it has been in 14 years. Newsrooms have a long way to go before they can better represent the communities they are serving.
Journalists’ ethical duties include giving voice to the voiceless and portraying all perspectives of stories clearly. In the newsroom, these diverse stories are being reported told by the dominant white male voice in the newsroom. African American and other minorities should have equal access to working in newsrooms and reporting stories to the public.
After all, it is a journalist's job to ask the hard questions about current issues that are facing our country, including race inequality. From police brutality to Black Lives Matter protests, these issues are ongoing and are constantly being reported by journalists. Having fresh perspectives on these contemporary issues is essential to running any newsroom and avoiding bias in stories.
Take, for instance, the Hurricane Katrina example we discussed in class of the different tones used for a white couple and a young African American male. The white couple was reported, “finding” food and the African American was said to be “looting” food from a grocery store. This was an unfair representation of a man who was just doing what he had to to survive through chest-deep water just like the white couple. We need fair perspectives in the media to avoid reporting negative stereotypes of different ethnicities and races.
This misrepresentation of the two stories could have been avoided if the Associated Press had a diverse individual review or even report the story. We need to hear from more minorities as they have different ways of reporting and storytelling.
Fortunately, there have been improvements in the diversity of the newsroom in recent years that have moved toward the right direction. Just as African Americans and other minorities have had incredible contributions to our world, they have powerful stories to share in the newsroom.
After all, humans are the same species and looks should not determine success. Those who work hard to report stories fairly and honestly to the public should be rewarded despite appearance or ethnicity. The acceptance of diversity in America begins in our newsrooms by sharing a diverse set of voices in news stories.