Repairing the neglect in our newsrooms

June 28, 2018 11:00

We’ve talked this week about the importance of repairing the neglect of communities within your coverage area. That it takes humility, active listening and a cultural shift.
What about within your newsroom?

We know the best way to better cover underserved communities is for our newsrooms to reflect those communities, and newsrooms still have a way to go on that front, shows our latest newsroom survey, and there’s actually a growing gap in financial investment in newsroom diversity and inclusion.
When communities are underrepresented in our coverage, they’re more likely to be marginalized or stereotyped.
The same holds true in our newsrooms.
While it’s clear we need to continue to work toward building more diverse news teams, there’s also a need to ensure our teams are truly inclusive.

To do that, we need humility, active listening and a cultural shift.
94.7% of TV newsrooms – and just 14.9% of radio newsrooms – have at least one person of color on staff. 98.8% of TV newsrooms – and just 48.3% of radio newsrooms – have at least one woman on staff.
Life can be difficult when you’re the only person in the newsroom like you, so much so that two John S. Knight Journalism Fellows, Dr. Seema Yasmin and Michael Grant, have created a Toolkit for Journalists of Color, “designed to help us survive in predominantly white newsrooms.” They also plan to create a tool “for white journalists who want to be allies to people of color.”

The toolkit addresses common experiences of people of color in newsrooms being marginalized, overlooked, disrespected or not afforded the same opportunities for advancement as others – just take a look at the shrinking but persistent gap in newsroom managers who are women or people of color.
At its worst, when people who are different are marginalized in newsrooms, they’re more likely to be victimized by harassment in newsrooms, too, the Freedom Forum Institute (formerly Newseum Institute) Power Shift Project illustrated.
The Power Shift Project has now expanded to include a new workplace integrity curriculum, developed by management expert Jill Geisler, with the goal of providing newsroom managers the tools to instill a cultural shift toward newsrooms with respect and trust for all members of staff. 

Because, just as when we really listen to communities we’ve neglected, we can rebuild relationships, when we truly welcome people who are different into our newsrooms, we open the door to truly reflecting our communities.