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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 21 and more outspoken, reporters and editors at the newspapers had marginalized her. Doris, as time went on, learned to monitor what she said and she would have measured conversations. To her working at the newspaper had meant she was, “an edited version of myself" - a sense of not being able to be oneself except with family and certain colleagues. Many of the journalists of color reiterated the observation that numbers were improving and progress was being made in covering communities, but there was a need for minority gatekeepers to check stories and make sure that stereotypes, offensive language and offensive images were caught and edited out of the newspaper. At every newspaper we interviewed, we heard stories where minority reporters felt that having a senior minority editor or gatekeeper would have prevented some offensive language or photograph or headline from making its way into the newspaper and offending the community and minority reporters alike. Sometimes, in the absence of a person of color in a position of power, the minority reporters found themselves sometimes serving as spokesperson for the minority community and also then as a spokesperson for the newspaper to the minority community. Most of the reporters did not mind serving in this role, but all were offended by tokenism of any type in terms of questions about race or minorities. James said that sometimes Black reporters had gotten angry at him for sending them only into Black communities and sometimes the community had gotten mad for sending out a Black reporter, asking him “Why do you only send a Black reporter to report on us?” But James believed that the reporter had to have trust in the community, not just be matched up. “Diversity does affect the framing of the story.” Doris actually encouraged people to come talk with her about issues and was not offended by that. For her, the problem was that reporters did not do that often enough and they sometimes “don’t question how they’re doing something…. (they) aren’t leading the examined life.” Several minority reporters did not mind being asked about diversity issues, but they were offended if they were asked a question only if it involved a “Black

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
21
and more outspoken, reporters and editors at the newspapers had marginalized her. Doris,
as time went on, learned to monitor what she said and she would have measured
conversations. To her working at the newspaper had meant she was, “an edited version of
myself" - a sense of not being able to be oneself except with family and certain
colleagues.
Many of the journalists of color reiterated the observation that numbers were
improving and progress was being made in covering communities, but there was a need
for minority gatekeepers to check stories and make sure that stereotypes, offensive
language and offensive images were caught and edited out of the newspaper. At every
newspaper we interviewed, we heard stories where minority reporters felt that having a
senior minority editor or gatekeeper would have prevented some offensive language or
photograph or headline from making its way into the newspaper and offending the
community and minority reporters alike. Sometimes, in the absence of a person of color
in a position of power, the minority reporters found themselves sometimes serving as
spokesperson for the minority community and also then as a spokesperson for the
newspaper to the minority community. Most of the reporters did not mind serving in this
role, but all were offended by tokenism of any type in terms of questions about race or
minorities.
James said that sometimes Black reporters had gotten angry at him for sending
them only into Black communities and sometimes the community had gotten mad for
sending out a Black reporter, asking him “Why do you only send a Black reporter to
report on us?” But James believed that the reporter had to have trust in the community,
not just be matched up. “Diversity does affect the framing of the story.”
Doris actually encouraged people to come talk with her about issues and was not
offended by that. For her, the problem was that reporters did not do that often enough and
they sometimes “don’t question how they’re doing something…. (they) aren’t leading the
examined life.” Several minority reporters did not mind being asked about diversity
issues, but they were offended if they were asked a question only if it involved a “Black


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