Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Need for Newsroom Diversity Gets Me Excited and Nervous

Steven Hernández

The more I hear about the need for diversity in the newsroom, I can't help but feel both extremely hopeful and slightly afraid.

Jemele Hill and Michael Smith fist bumping while on set of SportsCenter
Michael Smith and Jemele Hill on the set of "SC6". (Via ecelebrityfacts.com)

As a Hispanic American, I am excited to know that there is a demand for someone like myself, and know that I can make a difference based on my background and experience. An article in the Columbia Journalism Review explained that "people of color now make up about 17 percent of newsroom staffs; the percentage hovered between 12 to 14 percent from 2002 through 2005."

The growth may not seem like much, but it is at least a step in the right direction. Especially nowadays, in a society that is extremely diverse in both thought and voice, it makes total sense that newsrooms should reflect this already.

Wesley Lowery, a journalist for NeimanReports, wrote in an article that newsroom diversity is also a necessity, and points to the coverage of national events like Ferguson and Baltimore as examples for the need of more people of color to use their perspectives to further the discussion.

"Media diversity is not type of progressive ideal," Lowery said. "It's a journalistic imperative for any outlet devoted to fairness and accuracy in its coverage.

Furthermore, it is the object of every journalism institution to strive to uphold this diversity of thought and ideals. And, while I though believe that the future will see a more valiant push towards defending diverse reporters in the newsroom, this is not always the case. This feeds into my worry with the future of media: the news scape is rapidly changing, and becoming more and more political and controversial, which is bringing about several hurdles that keep reporters from working on their craft without worries.

Such is the case for Jemele Hill's Twitter controversy back in early September. Hill went to Twitter to to posts a series of personal opinions; in one of them, she described President Donald Trump as a white supremacist.

The problem with this scenario is not that Hill was controversial or that Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for her to be fired. My worry is that, as the Washington Post explained, no one in the positions of authority in the ESPN newsroom came to Hill's aid and stand by her statements.

The call for diversity in journalism is not only restricted to the amount of minorities that are supposed to be on campus. Rather, news teams should be ready to defend the positions that these studied, professional reporters take. Many of these minority journalists do not have the chance to voice their opinions and concerns until they become integrated as part of a newsroom, so it is only right that they should be defended.

Regardless, while helping out a reporter may not be guaranteed, I still believe that anyone of color, or any sort of minority, to strive for a seat in the newsroom. Any opportunity to for an unrepresented voice to be heard and to represent the group of people that desperately need the right coverage is a step in the right direction, no matter the risks.

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