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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 23 connections with communities was one of the most important ways that diversity could be practiced in the newspapers. This perception was especially acute for journalists who identified with the communities in question. For these reporters and editors, it was especially critical that diversity or pluralism permeate all facets of the decision making process at the newspaper. Several specific problems at these newspapers that emerged from the interviews include: the lack of a minority voice or perspective at the top where it might do some good; diversity practices not being implemented quickly enough, consistently enough; and the frustration with what the minority reporters and editors see as being the “same old excuses” about unqualified minority applicants when no minorities are hired. There was widespread criticism of the way in which the newspapers were not really aggressively pursuing minority hires, and minority reporters and editors expressed frustration that there seemed to be no ramifications and no consequences for a reporter or editor when he or she put offensive, derogatory comments into the paper. All of the reporters and editors expressed dissatisfaction with the ‘minority issues reporter’ set up; they appreciated the attention being given to the issue but felt it ghettoized diversity issues. Finally, all reporters felt that diversity issues were broader than minority issues; many of the reporters and editors believed everyone in the newsroom (from clerk to top editor) needed to expose himself or herself to the people in all of the communities that they served and wrote about. Journalists of color echoed Wilson and Gutierrez that for diversity to become a reality in the news media, “the last vestiges of prejudice and racism must be removed from the gatekeeper ranks” (1995, p. 158). We began this research with an interest in exploring some of the critical issues for reporters and journalists trying to practice diversity. Through our interviews with journalists at four newspapers, we found that implementing and practicing diversity is sometimes a daily struggle for news personnel. For journalists who belonged to or identified with the communities of color, this struggle involved mediating between two distinct cultures, that of the community and that of the newsroom.

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
23
connections with communities was one of the most important ways that diversity could be
practiced in the newspapers. This perception was especially acute for journalists who
identified with the communities in question. For these reporters and editors, it was
especially critical that diversity or pluralism permeate all facets of the decision making
process at the newspaper.
Several specific problems at these newspapers that emerged from the interviews
include: the lack of a minority voice or perspective at the top where it might do some
good; diversity practices not being implemented quickly enough, consistently enough;
and the frustration with what the minority reporters and editors see as being the “same old
excuses” about unqualified minority applicants when no minorities are hired. There was
widespread criticism of the way in which the newspapers were not really aggressively
pursuing minority hires, and minority reporters and editors expressed frustration that there
seemed to be no ramifications and no consequences for a reporter or editor when he or
she put offensive, derogatory comments into the paper. All of the reporters and editors
expressed dissatisfaction with the ‘minority issues reporter’ set up; they appreciated the
attention being given to the issue but felt it ghettoized diversity issues. Finally, all
reporters felt that diversity issues were broader than minority issues; many of the
reporters and editors believed everyone in the newsroom (from clerk to top editor) needed
to expose himself or herself to the people in all of the communities that they served and
wrote about. Journalists of color echoed Wilson and Gutierrez that for diversity to
become a reality in the news media, “the last vestiges of prejudice and racism must be
removed from the gatekeeper ranks” (1995, p. 158).
We began this research with an interest in exploring some of the critical issues for
reporters and journalists trying to practice diversity. Through our interviews with
journalists at four newspapers, we found that implementing and practicing diversity is
sometimes a daily struggle for news personnel. For journalists who belonged to or
identified with the communities of color, this struggle involved mediating between two
distinct cultures, that of the community and that of the newsroom.


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