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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 15 the story. A ‘story of the moment’ (or a breaking story) team leader at the Knight-Ridder newspaper, Margaret believed that team reporting did refocus the beats and that “the refocusing had broadened their definitions but not necessarily their horizons. The framework is there to be able to cover more issues, but that may not be what’s happening in practice.” According to Margaret, some groups were still being missed in the newspaper’s coverage of communities (an example for her were newly arrived immigrant groups.) And team reporting did help the newspaper begin to tap into the minority institutions in the community but not necessarily into the Black community or into the issues of the community. In her mind, team reporting had not changed the business or features sections very much. In addition to these formal policies and programs, the newspapers had used a variety of tools to ‘reconnect’ with communities and to try to cover their communities more fairly and in more depth. Readership surveys, appointing of a minority affairs reporter, community outreach/educational programs, diversity committees and minority source guides were all useful to the newspapers in helping them understand and cover their communities. But we also heard from minority reporters how they sometimes had become the ‘tool’ or resource that other reporters in the newspaper relied on. In addition, editors and reporters talked about discussions taking place in their newsrooms that sometimes revealed how far they still needed to go to include diversity in the news. To many of the editors and reporters, minority and non-minority, good reporters had to appreciate diversity in their communities, develop sources that were not the traditional ones in any group or community, and respect that race and gender did influence perspectives in the newsroom and in the news. Some editors and reporters said that reporters sometimes became too comfortable with a routine and, to really know what was going on in the community, the reporters needed to alter their routines, go into parts of the community where they normally would not go and go to different places for lunch. James (a Black metro editor at the Tribune newspaper) said that reporters needed to know

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
15
the story.
A ‘story of the moment’ (or a breaking story) team leader at the Knight-Ridder
newspaper, Margaret believed that team reporting did refocus the beats and that “the
refocusing had broadened their definitions but not necessarily their horizons. The
framework is there to be able to cover more issues, but that may not be what’s happening
in practice.” According to Margaret, some groups were still being missed in the
newspaper’s coverage of communities (an example for her were newly arrived immigrant
groups.) And team reporting did help the newspaper begin to tap into the minority
institutions in the community but not necessarily into the Black community or into the
issues of the community. In her mind, team reporting had not changed the business or
features sections very much.
In addition to these formal policies and programs, the newspapers had used a
variety of tools to ‘reconnect’ with communities and to try to cover their communities
more fairly and in more depth. Readership surveys, appointing of a minority affairs
reporter, community outreach/educational programs, diversity committees and minority
source guides were all useful to the newspapers in helping them understand and cover
their communities. But we also heard from minority reporters how they sometimes had
become the ‘tool’ or resource that other reporters in the newspaper relied on. In addition,
editors and reporters talked about discussions taking place in their newsrooms that
sometimes revealed how far they still needed to go to include diversity in the news.
To many of the editors and reporters, minority and non-minority, good reporters
had to appreciate diversity in their communities, develop sources that were not the
traditional ones in any group or community, and respect that race and gender did
influence perspectives in the newsroom and in the news. Some editors and reporters said
that reporters sometimes became too comfortable with a routine and, to really know what
was going on in the community, the reporters needed to alter their routines, go into parts
of the community where they normally would not go and go to different places for lunch.
James (a Black metro editor at the Tribune newspaper) said that reporters needed to know


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