Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Importance of A Diverse Newsroom

Lauren Schumacker

Although the past century has been progressive in an attempt to bring equality to our nation, there is still much progress to be made. Women, people of color, people with disabilities and many other different types of people are still discriminated against every day.

All of these people have stories to tell. Usually, the best person to tell one's story is the person who can relate, understand and empathize. This is why it is important to have a diverse newsroom.


Most newsrooms are filled with perdominantly white men. According to The American Society of News Editors, the amount of minorities employed has decreased from 14% to 13% in the past 10 years.

Julie Burton of the Women's Media Center explained to CNN just how much better hew newsroom became when the staff grew more diverse.

"Yes it really matters. My experience leading a newsroom showed me, time and time again, that staff diversity results in better and different coverage," she said. "When a group is truly diverse, the nefarious groupthink that makes a publication predictable and, at times, unintentionally biased, is more likely to be diminished."

She pointed out that even major newspapers, including The Times, have issues with diversity. Even on the team of 20 culture critics, there is not one black member of the staff, according to Burton.

What is the benefit of increasing diversity in the newsroom?

Our industry is all about finding stories and making the public aware of various events. The benefit of having a diverse group of people, is having a diverse group of backgrounds. If everyone working for a newspaper grew up in the same city with essentially the same life, its not likely that the newspaper will be able to completely grasp certain stories that they don't relate to, if they even find the story at all.

In other words, a white man will not likely be able to tell a story of the struggles of growing up as a black woman. I mean, he might. However, someone who has experienced racism and sexism is probably better suited to write about everything that goes along with the topic.

For example, it should not have to take a black journalist to step up and tell the newsroom that a mugshot of a man killed by police should not be the photo used when writing a story about it. However unfortunately, I have to think that things like this happen only because there was no one on the staff to point out how inappropriate it is.

Events like this make the newspaper appear biased. It decreases readership among an entire community if the members of the staff do not know how to appeal to various types of people.

How do we fix it?

First, we have to acknowledge that it is a problem. Employers need to understand that there is more than just one type of person who is qualified to do that job. Diversity training might be helpful to certain newsrooms who don't understand how a diverse team of journalists might greatly influence the content of their newspaper.

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