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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 2 imperative, but rather a way to effect change and to deliver important news to and about their communities (Garcia, 2002). We interviewed editors and reporters at four newspapers to explore what, to them, were the critical issues in ‘practicing diversity.’ In many of their stories, these journalists described the opportunities, challenges, and contradictions they faced in their dual role as workers for a mainstream newspaper and as members of targeted minority communities. In many cases, they occupied a borderland and often felt responsible for communicating their communities’ concerns to the newspaper and for challenging dominant racial notions and news routines. Background Literature The literature on diversity reflects a wide range of perspectives and priorities, from the marketing model that pushes diversity as a way to improve the bottom line to the multiracial news model that seeks to eradicate racism by implementing radical changes in the content and language of news (Wilson & Gutierrez, 1995). On the subject of language, it is worth noting that the diversity debate has been dominated and distorted by language (such as “minorities”) that tends to marginalize people. We have addressed the first problem by using the terms “communities of color” rather than “minority communities” whenever possible (this seemed especially appropriate because one of the newspapers in our study serves a market in which Hispanics comprise the majority). Of course, when quoting researchers or the journalists we interviewed, we have retained their language. In general, much of the diversity literature has focused on the following themes: the economic imperatives driving diversity efforts by newspapers, efforts to increase the number of minority journalists, improvements in coverage of minorities, and the limitations of diversity programs. A key concern that drives the diversity debate is the way media have traditionally covered women and minorities. The 1968 Kerner Commission Report cited the media’s contribution to the volatile and violent race relations of that period, saying that the media had failed to inform the public about racial issues and routinely depicted African- Americans inadequately and inaccurately (Irby, 1994). Studies have shown that some

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
2
imperative, but rather a way to effect change and to deliver important news to and about
their communities (Garcia, 2002). We interviewed editors and reporters at four
newspapers to explore what, to them, were the critical issues in ‘practicing diversity.’ In
many of their stories, these journalists described the opportunities, challenges, and
contradictions they faced in their dual role as workers for a mainstream newspaper and as
members of targeted minority communities. In many cases, they occupied a borderland
and often felt responsible for communicating their communities’ concerns to the
newspaper and for challenging dominant racial notions and news routines.
Background Literature
The literature on diversity reflects a wide range of perspectives and priorities,
from the marketing model that pushes diversity as a way to improve the bottom line to the
multiracial news model that seeks to eradicate racism by implementing radical changes in
the content and language of news (Wilson & Gutierrez, 1995). On the subject of
language, it is worth noting that the diversity debate has been dominated and distorted by
language (such as “minorities”) that tends to marginalize people. We have addressed the
first problem by using the terms “communities of color” rather than “minority
communities” whenever possible (this seemed especially appropriate because one of the
newspapers in our study serves a market in which Hispanics comprise the majority). Of
course, when quoting researchers or the journalists we interviewed, we have retained their
language. In general, much of the diversity literature has focused on the following
themes: the economic imperatives driving diversity efforts by newspapers, efforts to
increase the number of minority journalists, improvements in coverage of minorities, and
the limitations of diversity programs.
A key concern that drives the diversity debate is the way media have traditionally
covered women and minorities. The 1968 Kerner Commission Report cited the media’s
contribution to the volatile and violent race relations of that period, saying that the media
had failed to inform the public about racial issues and routinely depicted African-
Americans inadequately and inaccurately (Irby, 1994). Studies have shown that some


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