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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 20 discussions in their newsrooms about racism in the country and about white privilege. Putting Journalists of Color in Gatekeeper Positions One of the most critical factors in practicing diversity, at least for the minority reporters, was who the decision makers were at the newspapers and how they implemented diversity practices in the newsrooms. Having a diverse newsroom was very important, but even more critical to the minority reporters was having a minority person in positions of editorial power at the newspaper. Edward, the columnist at the Gannett paper expressed this best when he said that diversity discussions had to be a part of any decision-making process and argued that diversity was not meaningful unless it was dealt with at the top. The minority reporters at all of the newspapers expressed frustration with the daily way that ‘diversity’ issues might be dealt with and how slow or unfair the process sometimes seemed. Some of the reporters felt like there had to be more action on issues of diversity, particularly when a mistake or blunder occurred. Frequently what would happen when a ‘crisis’ or problem arose about a minority or diversity issue would be that there would be lots of tense meetings and lots of ‘hurt and steam’ being revealed. But to Edward, the real question was, “what was the action that was going to be taken to make sure the mistake didn’t happen again?” To him, it was important that reporters and community members see some steps being done to correct mistakes and rectify them, not just talk about diversity and hurt feelings. Minority and non-minority reporters and editors believed that as the numbers of minorities grew in newsrooms, the comfort level would increase, more of these conversations would occur and more people would be speaking out on these issues. But for many of the minority reporters and editors, change was not happening fast enough and they were becoming frustrated by the pace of change and sometimes by how they had in some cases were becoming tired with the ‘fight’. Doris, for example, had working in newspapers for 18 years and she frequently had been in her words, the “lone Latina and the lone voice on issues of diversity.” In fact, in the past when she had been combative

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
20
discussions in their newsrooms about racism in the country and about white privilege.
Putting Journalists of Color in Gatekeeper Positions
One of the most critical factors in practicing diversity, at least for the minority
reporters, was who the decision makers were at the newspapers and how they
implemented diversity practices in the newsrooms. Having a diverse newsroom was very
important, but even more critical to the minority reporters was having a minority person
in positions of editorial power at the newspaper. Edward, the columnist at the Gannett
paper expressed this best when he said that diversity discussions had to be a part of any
decision-making process and argued that diversity was not meaningful unless it was dealt
with at the top.
The minority reporters at all of the newspapers expressed frustration with the daily
way that ‘diversity’ issues might be dealt with and how slow or unfair the process
sometimes seemed. Some of the reporters felt like there had to be more action on issues
of diversity, particularly when a mistake or blunder occurred. Frequently what would
happen when a ‘crisis’ or problem arose about a minority or diversity issue would be that
there would be lots of tense meetings and lots of ‘hurt and steam’ being revealed. But to
Edward, the real question was, “what was the action that was going to be taken to make
sure the mistake didn’t happen again?” To him, it was important that reporters and
community members see some steps being done to correct mistakes and rectify them, not
just talk about diversity and hurt feelings.
Minority and non-minority reporters and editors believed that as the numbers of
minorities grew in newsrooms, the comfort level would increase, more of these
conversations would occur and more people would be speaking out on these issues. But
for many of the minority reporters and editors, change was not happening fast enough and
they were becoming frustrated by the pace of change and sometimes by how they had in
some cases were becoming tired with the ‘fight’. Doris, for example, had working in
newspapers for 18 years and she frequently had been in her words, the “lone Latina and
the lone voice on issues of diversity.” In fact, in the past when she had been combative


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