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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 3 newspapers have been guilty of ignoring, making light of, or denigrating minority communities and minority and women’s issues (Bridge, 1994). In some cases, minority groups have argued that they have been covered in spot news featuring crime or upheaval, but not as holistically as white communities. As Gandy argued (1997), the media’s tendency to depict African Americans and Hispanics as violent criminals is cause for concern because of the media’s role in the cultivation of social perception. According to the cultivation model, media images provide the raw material from which audience members construct their own pictures of the world (Gandy, 1997). All news media have struggled with the issue of diversity and how to incorporate it into their practices. Newspapers have felt this push perhaps more intensely because of declining readership and the need to stay competitive in media-saturated markets. One of the problems with newspapers is that they have sometimes only served those who already read the newspaper (Pease, 1990). According to Pease, diversity is not just about numbers and hiring practices, it is also about how newspapers should view their role for all of society: watchdog, mirror, commentator, conscience of society. Some critics have suggested that the press cover “a much broader range of white life than of minority life” (Shaw, 1991, p. 14). In the early 1990’s studies showed that minority readers were simply not finding references to their life and community in many newspapers. Because minorities were underrepresented, news organizations suggested that newspapers do more to show minorities as a part of daily life, to integrate minorities into all of the pages of the opinion pages and to cover minority cultures, communities and places of origins (Garneau, 1992). Studies during this time also revealed that minority readers wanted newspapers to offer useful information about their community and they wanted “to see their friends and neighbors in the pages, and to find their values and culture reflected and confirmed” (Stein, 1991, p. 22). The perspective, not just the numbers in the newsrooms, needs to change according to Charlie Ericksen, publisher of Hispanic Link. “I’d like to see the U.S. media

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
3
newspapers have been guilty of ignoring, making light of, or denigrating minority
communities and minority and women’s issues (Bridge, 1994). In some cases, minority
groups have argued that they have been covered in spot news featuring crime or upheaval,
but not as holistically as white communities. As Gandy argued (1997), the media’s
tendency to depict African Americans and Hispanics as violent criminals is cause for
concern because of the media’s role in the cultivation of social perception. According to
the cultivation model, media images provide the raw material from which audience
members construct their own pictures of the world (Gandy, 1997).
All news media have struggled with the issue of diversity and how to incorporate
it into their practices. Newspapers have felt this push perhaps more intensely because of
declining readership and the need to stay competitive in media-saturated markets. One of
the problems with newspapers is that they have sometimes only served those who already
read the newspaper (Pease, 1990). According to Pease, diversity is not just about
numbers and hiring practices, it is also about how newspapers should view their role for
all of society: watchdog, mirror, commentator, conscience of society. Some critics have
suggested that the press cover “a much broader range of white life than of minority life”
(Shaw, 1991, p. 14).
In the early 1990’s studies showed that minority readers were simply not finding
references to their life and community in many newspapers. Because minorities were
underrepresented, news organizations suggested that newspapers do more to show
minorities as a part of daily life, to integrate minorities into all of the pages of the opinion
pages and to cover minority cultures, communities and places of origins (Garneau, 1992).
Studies during this time also revealed that minority readers wanted newspapers to offer
useful information about their community and they wanted “to see their friends and
neighbors in the pages, and to find their values and culture reflected and confirmed”
(Stein, 1991, p. 22).
The perspective, not just the numbers in the newsrooms, needs to change
according to Charlie Ericksen, publisher of Hispanic Link. “I’d like to see the U.S. media


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