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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 5 numbers as a measure of diversity. The most recent numbers from studies funded by the Association of Newspaper Editors and The Freedom Forum, show that minority representation at newspapers has actually decreased (the first decline in over 2 decades) and that the number of newspapers with no minorities on staff actually increased for the first time in many years. (“2001 ASNE Census Finds Newsrooms Less Diverse”; McGill, 1999). In addition to the numerical disparity, minority and non-minority journalists do not share perceptions of what’s going on in newspapers. Studies have shown that non minority and minority journalists feel very differently on issues ranging from hiring and promotion, career success, equal treatment, hiring criteria, racism, diversity commitment, and plans to remain or move on. In particular, minority reporters felt that their daily performance was judged more harshly, that the bar was raised for minority reporters and that they had to be better than the best reporter was in order to be evaluated equally with non-minority reporters (Cohen, 1996; Roefs, 1993). Finally, minority reporters have expressed frustration with being hired because they are minorities but then having their minority perspective edited out of stories or being hired and then pigeonholed into covering only minority issues (Shipler, 1998). Some critics have suggested that appealing to minorities through minority quota hiring and ‘forced’ inclusion of diversity will not work. Several researchers have suggested that there is no real minority readership gap and that newspaper readership is a function of education and income, not race (Cranberg & Rodriguez, 1994; Stone, 1994). Although arguing that minority-oriented content in news is condescending and perpetuates myth, Cranberg and Rodriquez do think that diverse newsrooms and improved coverage of minority communities is overdue. William McGowan (2001), in his recent book, Coloring the News, uses anecdotal evidence to argue that reporters and newspapers have not aggressively covered race and gender issues for fear of offending minority communities and minority staff members. He criticizes mainstreaming and other diversity programs that he says have hurt the ability of newspapers to objectively report

Authors: Johnston, Anne. and Flamiano, Dolores.
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Bridging the Border between Communities of Color and Mainstream Newspapers
5
numbers as a measure of diversity. The most recent numbers from studies funded by the
Association of Newspaper Editors and The Freedom Forum, show that minority
representation at newspapers has actually decreased (the first decline in over 2 decades)
and that the number of newspapers with no minorities on staff actually increased for the
first time in many years. (“2001 ASNE Census Finds Newsrooms Less Diverse”; McGill,
1999).
In addition to the numerical disparity, minority and non-minority journalists do
not share perceptions of what’s going on in newspapers. Studies have shown that non
minority and minority journalists feel very differently on issues ranging from hiring and
promotion, career success, equal treatment, hiring criteria, racism, diversity commitment,
and plans to remain or move on. In particular, minority reporters felt that their daily
performance was judged more harshly, that the bar was raised for minority reporters and
that they had to be better than the best reporter was in order to be evaluated equally with
non-minority reporters (Cohen, 1996; Roefs, 1993). Finally, minority reporters have
expressed frustration with being hired because they are minorities but then having their
minority perspective edited out of stories or being hired and then pigeonholed into
covering only minority issues (Shipler, 1998).
Some critics have suggested that appealing to minorities through minority quota
hiring and ‘forced’ inclusion of diversity will not work. Several researchers have
suggested that there is no real minority readership gap and that newspaper readership is a
function of education and income, not race (Cranberg & Rodriguez, 1994; Stone, 1994).
Although arguing that minority-oriented content in news is condescending and
perpetuates myth, Cranberg and Rodriquez do think that diverse newsrooms and
improved coverage of minority communities is overdue. William McGowan (2001), in
his recent book, Coloring the News, uses anecdotal evidence to argue that reporters and
newspapers have not aggressively covered race and gender issues for fear of offending
minority communities and minority staff members. He criticizes mainstreaming and other
diversity programs that he says have hurt the ability of newspapers to objectively report


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