Thursday, November 9, 2017

Diversity in newsrooms

Colleen Howard

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When it comes to newsrooms and the environment that many of them hold it can be a tricky thing to navigate throughout. Communities that many of these newsrooms are there to report on are not representative of the community itself. There lay the problem with the system. If we are unable to see ourselves reflected in the media we take in, then there may be an issue revolving the lack of connection between the news and the community. Which is one of the main goals of the newsroom is to make sure that your audience feels represented and cared for in the media. Without a larger diversity of people and ideas that goal may waiver or even get lost in it all. 

For instance, the issue of Jemele Hill’s tweets in which she proclaimed Donald Trump to be a white supremacist. She later apologized for her actions stating that the comments may have put her employer in a tough position. However, it is instances as such when a woman of color voices her opinion attempting to be representative of an under acknowledged community in which she thought were listening. Ethically it is wrong to have an open political bias as a journalist, but many are arguing for Hill’s actions stating that she shouldn’t be silenced. Another aspect of the issue as a whole is the fact that ESPN is not a typical newsroom. Many of their commentators and reporters have a lot of leeway with the things that they do or say. So many were shocked that she was silenced and suspended when that in fact is her job to give her opinion. This CNN article goes into the case in much detail.

Journalists and newsrooms alike must be very careful in the way that they represent themselves within our changing political climate. It is unfair to praise the idea of diversity in newsrooms and then do the opposite. A Nieman Reports article so thoroughly touched on the topic saying that the notions that newsrooms have on reporters of color are wildly incorrect. As it states that no one would ask a white reporter if they could cover police reports without bias so why ask a reporter of color. These are things that reporters and journalists in every newsroom must be mindful of. It is more important than the newsroom alone, this behavior must transcend far past the walls of the building and into society. This is the only way for people to start seeing some real change. NPR reported on the topic including the issues of newsrooms not only toward people of color, but gender problems as well. 

In order to watch our society, change and develop new standards we must look to ourselves first. Which seems very cliché, but it could have an effect on the way that not only newsrooms operate, but businesses and society as a whole. As reporters if we open our eyes to the diversity and we openly welcome it into our newsroom, leaving bias behind, then we are one step further to creating an environment representative of our community that we vow to serve.

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