Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Importance of Diversity in the Media

Kendall Schmucker

Diversity in the newsroom should accurately reflect the community in which the media is reporting to. This is pinnacle for accurate reporting. Without diversity, media outlets lack understanding of different cultures beyond what one can read in a book.

For example, someone who grew up in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio may not have the ability to report on a story about South Side, Chicago as well as someone who grew up on the South Side. It is not about how well they can write or how good of a journalist they are; it is about their ability to relate to the culture of that area and incorporate that into the questions they ask and the people they elect to interview.

This is not to say that if there is a job opening, a news organization should ignore qualifications of candidates and seek a candidate of color to fill the position. This is just to say that having a variety of backgrounds provides better coverage and should not be ignored.

Looking at race in the United States is necessary in the process of making a more diverse newsroom, but discussion about race makes most people uncomfortable, as pointed out in the NiemanReports article titled Why Newsroom Diversity Works.

"And journalists often find it difficult to have open, honest conversation about race and ethnicity–even compared to other contentious newsroom issues, like gender imbalances–for fear of damaging relationships with editors or colleagues."

Without acknowledging the problem, accepting it as true, and moving forward to make a difference, significant change will take longer to progress in the journalism world. However, the need for change is is quickly approaching, as society grows more and more diversity. This change is reflected by a U.S. Census Bureau study that states by the year 2060, white will no longer be the majority race of the United States.

In an article by NiemanReports titled Newsroom Need to Engage if They Want to See Real Change, it states that if a newsroom is made up of journalists from the same backgrounds, they will not be able to ask the some of the in-depth questions that would provide a better story, and stories will not be as accurately and fairly written. This point is especially relevant with the gaining popularity of stories involving race, ethnicity, and culture.


"A newsroom cannot tell stories like Ferguson or Baltimore–at least they cannot tell them thoroughly and with nuance–if you don't have people who look like the people who are being written about in these stories doing some of the reporting and making some of the coverage decisions in the newsroom."

In order to address the lack of diversity in journalism, journalists need to acknowledge the issue. In general, the root of such an issue comes from the fact that news outlets are going to hire candidates with a better education, more experience, and a bigger network. In the United States currently, a lot of those candidates would be individuals who are white.

An article written by the editors of the Columbia Journal Review, titled 4 ways newsrooms can address a lack of diversity, gives an outline of how to go about looking at this issue, and how to hire a staff of individuals with different backgrounds.

Once we aid in the process of creating a more educated and diverse group of journalists in the workforce, we can continue on the path to creating the most fair and balanced stories that we can.

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