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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers: Journalists Discuss Diversity Programs
Unformatted Document Text:  Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers 12 important areas of diversity was educating staff about the importance of understanding the community. Diversity was important because, “if you don’t serve all who are in your community, then you give up being a mass medium,” according to Diane, the managing editor at the Tribune Company paper. “Diversity is about connecting with readers. . . you can get good ideas about coverage by having women and minorities on staff. If you only have white male perspectives, then your perception of things will get skewed.” Editors and reporters expressed a variety of reasons why connecting with diverse readers was important. Several of them were happy to take on the “market-driven” label or the good business imperative vision of diversity. Others were less comfortable with that being the sole reason for connecting with communities, preferring to see diversity as the right thing to do. All reporters and editors at the newspapers supported diversity, in the very broadest sense. But many of the newspapers had encountered resistance to more specifically defined diversity issues. For example, Walter (head of personnel at the Tribune paper) had sensed a resistance among some white reporters in having to be ‘sensitive’ to other viewpoints. “ (I) don’t know why reporters resist being sensitive to other’s viewpoint. After all they are adept at not offending their sources in the police department or in government, why is it less important to be sensitive to others’ viewpoints and other communities? You have to be sensitive to sources, so why not be sensitized to voices of other communities… of the Black community …of the Hispanic community?” In addition to trying to change informal attitudes about the importance of diversity, the newspapers also implemented diversity in news coverage through a variety of strategies aimed at improving everyday reporting practices. All of the reporters believed that the newspapers had tried to do better in connecting with and covering communities but that there was much room for improvement. The newspapers used a variety of programs and plans to try to ‘reconnect’ with their communities and to insure that they were covering issues that would be of importance in the community. They

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
12
important areas of diversity was educating staff about the importance of understanding
the community. Diversity was important because, “if you don’t serve all who are in your
community, then you give up being a mass medium,” according to Diane, the managing
editor at the Tribune Company paper. “Diversity is about connecting with readers. . . you
can get good ideas about coverage by having women and minorities on staff. If you only
have white male perspectives, then your perception of things will get skewed.” Editors
and reporters expressed a variety of reasons why connecting with diverse readers was
important. Several of them were happy to take on the “market-driven” label or the good
business imperative vision of diversity. Others were less comfortable with that being the
sole reason for connecting with communities, preferring to see diversity as the right thing
to do.
All reporters and editors at the newspapers supported diversity, in the very
broadest sense. But many of the newspapers had encountered resistance to more
specifically defined diversity issues. For example, Walter (head of personnel at the
Tribune paper) had sensed a resistance among some white reporters in having to be
‘sensitive’ to other viewpoints. “ (I) don’t know why reporters resist being sensitive to
other’s viewpoint. After all they are adept at not offending their sources in the police
department or in government, why is it less important to be sensitive to others’
viewpoints and other communities? You have to be sensitive to sources, so why not be
sensitized to voices of other communities… of the Black community …of the Hispanic
community?”
In addition to trying to change informal attitudes about the importance of
diversity, the newspapers also implemented diversity in news coverage through a variety
of strategies aimed at improving everyday reporting practices. All of the reporters
believed that the newspapers had tried to do better in connecting with and covering
communities but that there was much room for improvement. The newspapers used a
variety of programs and plans to try to ‘reconnect’ with their communities and to insure
that they were covering issues that would be of importance in the community. They


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