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Lack of media diversity creates problems for democracy

Posted by on Nov 18, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Candace Bowen, MJE
Columbia Journalism Review is focusing on diversity in this fall’s print issue and online site— not the diversity of inclusion or the diversity that just gives us more voices. In the intro to the Fall 2018 issue,author Jelani Cobb, director of Columbia University’s Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Human Rights, says now it’s more than that. She shows how journalists are just plain missing the story.

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Diversity is a journalistic must

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


 Diversity in cultures , sources and ideas brings stronger coverage


Student media staffs should reflect the racial, economic, social issue and gender diversity of the schools they represent.

 Social media post/question: Diversity is important, but how do we accurately represent our school? Are we representing our school’s diversity in our student media?

Stance:Coverage and sources should reflect the school population and its various communities, including a wide range of sources who represent students and staff.

Not only should staffs represent the racial, economic, political, social and gender diversity of the school, they also need to examine their coverage of these groups. This coverage should be pervasive of all media areas and not just relegated to stories of conflict as noted in the Nieman Reports, Why Journalists Must Stop Segregating Stories About Race.

Reasoning/suggestions:Diversity is more than a buzzword. It needs to be a constant, honest conversation in the student media classroom. Students need to evaluate who they are covering and in what way the students are being covered.

A 2014 study by American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research “only 25 percent of African-Americans and 33 percent of Hispanics said the news media accurately portrayed their communities.”

We also must actively recruit students who reflect the student body to help counter this representation issue. However, it’s not enough to recruit these students. We must make sure the media room is a welcoming place for all students.

Students need to understand not everyone’s experience is like their own and no staffer can speak for a group of people. 


SPJ Diversity Toolbox, SPJ

4 Ways a Newsroom Can Address a Lack of Diversity, CJR

Why Newsroom Diversity Works, Nieman Reports

Why Journalists Must Stop Segregating Stories about Race, Nieman Reports

Race and Reporting, Nieman Reports

Journalism Educators Must Leap Diversity Hurdles, SPJ



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Encouraging diversity in new staff selection

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments


by Megan Fromm

For most publications staffs around the country, the post-spring-break season is officially new staff recruitment time—the chance to build the ideal team for next school year.  Applications start rolling in, would-be editors wait anxiously for their new assignments and advisers endure the emotional rollercoaster of deciding who belongs where and why.

Typically, requirements such as editing skills, leadership potential, design ability and time commitments take precedence when selecting a new staff. But what about ideology? What about personal perspectives or cultural understandings?  Building the right publications team demands a deep understanding not only of your students technical skills, but also of their personalities, dispositions and background.

Advocating for diversity among your staff members is not just the politically correct thing to do—it should be an ethical imperative. When your staffers’ family background, religious ideologies or cultural upbringing reflect a range of experiences, your publication is more likely to exhibit that same diversity.

If you haven’t yet considered how diversity plays a part in your staff-building process, consider taking a survey of your current students and potential staffers or making a diversity reflection part of your application requirement. The point is not to force students to answer questions about politics or religion or race, but rather to encourage them to open up about personal perspectives that demonstrate and celebrate their own uniqueness.

Ask questions like:

  • What is most important to you outside school?
  • What cliques or stereotypes do you feel you most relate to? Which ones least define you? Why?
  • What are you doing (or where are you physically) when you feel most “yourself?”
  • Where (or to whom) do you go for inspiration?

If all the responses sound eerily similar, you might want to rethink your recruitment strategies or the students you target for your publications programs. On the other hand, if the reflections show a range of distinct answers, consider how those students might help encourage the same diversity in coverage by being a part of your publication.

Be sure you give students a chance to authorize your “release” of this information to returning staff members who might be helping in the recruitment/selection process. And, when your staff is finally complete, encourage members to share these reflections during team-building.



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