Monday, November 13, 2017

Where's the Diversity in News Media?

Garrett Raymond

Who isn't Getting a Voice? 
It seems like everyday in the news there's a huge story going on regarding race, gender and diversity. From controversial stories of kneeling during the national anthem, to criticisms of women not being able to hold positions of power, you hear these stories everyday. But, my question is, when these diversity stories are reported, why is it usually a white male?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minorities make up 37.02 percent of the population in 2016. Of that population the number of journalists of color in daily newspaper newsrooms vary around 12 and 14 percent, per American Society of News Editors in a 2015 census. Think about all the news you've heard involving minorities in the past four years, Ferguson, Charleston and sexual assault. How would a white male be able to capture the audience it impacts? People want reporters who look like the people being affected, they want empathy. 

The representation of women of color in the newsroom is quite worse. In a male dominated field, women journalists of Hispanic, black and Asian make up less than 5 percent of traditional print and online news publications, according to a 2016 survey from the American Society of News Editors. To make a newsroom capture its full potential, it has to have lenses from all demographics. 

Different is Good
"Newsroom diversity is a journalistic imperative," Wesley Lowery wrote in an article from the Nieman Reports. 

Those words can't be true enough, according to a U.S. Census projects minorities will become a majority by 2044. If news media doesn't get the reporters they need to cover minority issues, agencies will lose a lot of credibility and viewers. 

Having people of different demographics in the newsroom is a tremendous asset to have too. Having several people from different backgrounds can help flesh out details, analyze information and get different perspectives. In some instances,  

For example, Lonnae O'Neal worked for The Undefeated a site that covers sports, race, culture and how they intersect. She covered Colin Kaepernick's story after Steve Wyche, a famous African American reporter working for the NFL, covered the story first. Wyche broke the news under the impression of him kneeling during the nation anthem as a distraction and diversion in the 49ers' lockeroom, per Wyche learned that Kaepernick's refusal to stand was to protest the police violence against black men and women.  O'Neal took a racial look into the story and wrote an article discussing the way Wyche broke the story and how if mainstream media wasn't so whitewashed, there could have been less of a misunderstanding. That article can be found here.

Lonnae O'Neal

Getting more diverse in the newsroom is not just an overnight task, it takes time to hone the craft and find your voice. Organizations need to build programs and invest in media diversity. Reporting news from different perspectives and lenses only helps and informs society, giving the news a truthfulness and authentic feel. 

"We need new and different lenses, people of different backgrounds thinking at the table. We'll only be richer for having that. Why is it so hard to set as an intention? Because many folks are going to be uncomfortable with what that looks like," said O'Neal. 

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