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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by PaperDoll, Sep 8, 2007.

  1. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    I've been drafted for my paper's diversity committee. Shocking, I know... ::)

    I'm not sure we've had one in my tenure, and I have no clue what's supposed to come out of this committee. I have heard our new executive editor is behind this, so I'd like to pretend to be prepared for the first meeting next week.

    Does the diversity committee actually do anything? I imagine we're supposed to come up with relevant story ideas, but there's just not much racial diversity in this county. Aside from the girls who play on boys teams (been there, written that), what counts?
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    They'll probably tell you that minorities aren't represented well enough in the newspaper and then when you hand them the sports page and point out all of the stories on minority athletes, they'll tell you, "Well, that doesn't count..."

    Papers I've worked at have send editors to recruit at NABJ functions. One year, we sent an African-American copy editor there to recruit. The funny part was she had been on staff for less than a month and barely knew anything about the paper...

    These committees exist solely so the ME and the EE can tell people they exist...
  3. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    Gannett paper?
  4. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    I know the Anglo in all of us would like to discount such efforts, but having newsrooms (or stories) that represent the gender, ethnic and religious* aggregations of the community in which we report is not the worst concept in the history of newspapers.

    *-depending on the concentration of a particular grouping and said group's involvement in social, commercial and governmental settings.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    You also may want to consider some outreach efforts -- maybe work with the journalism program at a diverse high school.

    Things like that. Think more getting involved with the community than just counting heads at the paper.
  6. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    A lot of newspapers would be wise to add "political" to the list. Last I checked, the left-right, red-blue, liberal-conservative breakdown of most communities leaves a significant segment of the population without much representation in typical newsrooms. Conversatives, in fact, might be the biggest underserved group in most markets. Don't know many communities where a single racial, ethnic or religious minority accounts for 40-50 percent of the population. And if you want to factor in potential customership -- which goes to points I have made here about chasing "maybe" readers vs. serving actual readers -- a lot of these unrepresented conservatives are said to have money for subscriptions and maybe even ads, from what I've heard.

    Yet we don't see many MEs or EEs tripping over themselves to recruit more conservative journalists or get more "righty" story angles into their pages. Once in a while a "token" columnist. But if these news organizations really were interested in honest diversity, they would acknowledge the natural inclination for liberals and others who believe in "social justice" to be drawn to journalism, and strive to balance that by employing some number of writers and editors who view things from the other side.

    Smart newspapering -- let's alienate or at least ignore a big group of potential customers who a) read and b) have money to spend. It's really not diversity, either, if you end up with 95 percent of your newsroom sharing the same politics, regardless of their skin color or ethnicity.
  7. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I think if any of us had ever seen this done well, we might not be so cynical...

    Hell, I worked at a paper that hired an intern who had never spent a day in journalism because she was African-American... I got my first internship because the first two choices, both minorities, failed to show up without letting anyone know...

    I know of another paper, in a city with just 12 percent minorities, that dictated that 40 percent of the "voices" and photos that ran in the paper be from minorities. Naturally, sports didn't count.... Dumbest fucking thing I've ever heard...
  8. Cousin Jeffrey

    Cousin Jeffrey Active Member

    I thought diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.
  9. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    It's difficult for me to counter personal anecdotes. Anecdotal evidence is, well, anecdotal.
    The point, or view is that newsrooms throughout the country are whites males, 30-50. In conjunction, the country is not comprised of white males, 30-50.

    (Of course, that's difficult for white males, 30-50, to hear -- present company included.)

    Thing is, I agree with your wholeheartedly. The cynic in us sees "lip service" and "change for appearance" only. That's not serving anyone, especially the reader.
  10. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    I've worked in five or six newsrooms over a couple of decades, and there always have been a pretty high number of women there. Journalism programs have more women than men pursuing degrees these days.

    This might be another instance of "diversity" being used, when the actual goal is affirmative action.

    Also: Aren't our marketing geniuses at the point where they can verify or refute the ideals spewed by proponents of diversity? That is, once a newspaper has hired several minority journalists, aren't they able to gather the data on whether more members of those minorities begin subscribing, reading and/or advertising? If the numbers don't back up the high-minded reasons for pursuing diversity, aren't newspapers in too much of a financial crisis to focus on anything except boosting readership and revenues?

    Editors defend Paris Hilton stories by saying, "We're a business and that's what readers want." But if they want white males, age 30-50, then we're not a business and it doesn't matter what readers want?

    I'm just saying.
  11. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Ok. Your point is made. And it's a valid one.
    But, just because numbers don't immediately support the hiring of minority journalists, doesn't mean you discount the validity of the action.
    There are many factors in the fall of circulation and advertising. And to focus on diversity in the newsroom and it's lack of impact during a time of turmoil in the industry would lead you to nothing more than a false conclusion.
  12. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    But, if the numbers did show a "lack of impact," that at least ought to temper the bold claims, made with no evidence, that diversity hires are the key to growing a paper's audience and revenues.

    Someone else can be just as high-and-mighty about the need to invest in investigative reporting or in-depth government procedural stories or bureaus in D.C. and abroad, all stuff that is ``important.'' But if that stuff doesn't help the bottom line, editors and publishers don't blink these days in shitcanning it. So they shouldn't hide behind the PC-ness of "diversity" ideals, then, if that strategy doesn't pack a payoff either. Those who question diversity as a priority, or in some places THE priority, aren't all bigots. We just want consistency.

    And I'm still waiting to see that first ME or EE candidate, who happens to be white, voluntarily stepping aside for a diversity hire into that promotion. It's easy to stump for diversity once you've gotten yours. Unless you're carrying around a lot of majority guilt.
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