The Four Pillars of Diversity


Published on

How can a newsroom achieve diversity from the ground up?

Published in: News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Four Pillars of Diversity

  1. 1. The Four Pillars of Diversity <br />Holly Edgell<br />University of Missouri School of Journalism<br />Available as an audio lecture from RTDNA<br />
  2. 2. I. Perception v. Reality<br />For the public, local leaders, and your community in general, perception IS reality. Your staff must reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of your readers/audience. <br />TIP: Do some research about population shifts and changes in your city/community/region. The US Census Bureau web site crunches the numbers based on a variety of factors, from race to income. Keep a file where you can collect news articles about demographic shifts in your community.<br />
  3. 3. II. Gatekeepers<br />The key to really getting a handle on the stories that affect your communities is having on staff people who have their fingers on the pulses of the wide range of viewers common to many markets. <br />TIPS: <br />Encourage staff to report on what’s happening in their neighborhoods, what concerns do the people they talk to, worship with and hang out with have? <br /> Mine your staff for hidden talents and skills. Insight, great story ideas and important issues for coverage are right in front you every day. Create a database of the outside activities and extra abilities your employees have.  <br /> Remember: Diversity means a lot of things. Keep in mind factors like economic status, education, and age.<br />
  4. 4. III. Proactive Approach<br /> News managers must develop protocols for airing & publishing stories in which language or imagery may be incendiary, inaccurate or downright offensive.<br />TIPS:<br /> With input from your newsroom managers and outside experts, develop a basic protocol for employees to follow when stories involving race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and disability issues arise. Hold a staff meeting to explain the protocol and provide examples (e.g. from past coverage) where the guidelines might be used. Provide copies of this protocol to all newsroom employees and consider posting the guidelines in a prominent place. Also consider developing a diversity style guide that clearly outlines the descriptors that are acceptable to describe people from different backgrounds. Consult community leaders and industry associations to guidance.<br />
  5. 5. IV. Comfort Zone<br />Members of your staff need to know a few things about your commitment:<br />Your door is open to staff members who have concerns about how you cover certain issues related to underrepresented groups, whether it’s just one story or an overall approach.<br />You will listen to, investigate and take appropriate action on complaints about offensive language and attitudes in your own newsroom.<br />The task of adapting your coverage and policies is never really complete. You are open to suggestions and ideas.<br />TIPS: Consider creating a diversity committee in your newsroom. KRON in San Francisco did this in 1999 (See RTDNA’sDiversity Tool Kit for a video report). The committee meetings provided a forum for newsroom employees to share their concerns about interacting with coworkers from different backgrounds and forced the KRON news staff to acknowledge that members tended to form cliques based on race and ethnicity. The committee even performed a comprehensive review of KRON’s coverage, looking specifically at the backgrounds of the people in their stories, including sources.<br />
  6. 6. Resources<br />SPJ Diversity Tool Kit – includes anti-profiling guidelines, links and referrals to a variety of experts and organizations, and more. (The Diversity page at the SPJ site also includes a link to the blog, “Who’s News,” to which yours truly is a regular contributor)<br />RTDNA Diversity Tool Kit – available to view online<br />The Poynter Institute – provides seminars on diversity in reporting. The web site is rich in articles and tip sheets about real life scenarios, including advice for leaders:<br />UNITY – As a partnership that includes the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association this is a great portal to a vast universe of information: finding experts, sources, advice about diversity initiatives, diversity practices, training, you name it.. The web site is Also, the UNITY conference every four years (where the NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, and NAJA converge) is an outstanding recruiting and networking opportunity <br />