I titled this blog post “Growing” because I wanted to reflect not only on the research I have completed but also look at the arc of my understanding and knowledge about the diversity in newsrooms in this time of great upheaval in journalism. I feel especially close to this topic. It is part and parcel of how I came to journalism: the need to hear and see all voices reflected in one the most influential forms of communication in the world. I am inspired daily by the struggle to push this idea forward within the sphere of my professional and academic environment.
The story remains the same
Something else that has inspired me through the research is that the minority journalists — I suspect most journalists — have not lost sight of their primary goals: to tell great stories that inform, engage, provoke, and entertain. Obviously the platforms, the skills, and the resources necessary to tell those stories have changed. So, too, has the concerted push for racial diversity. The journalists I spoke to had all worked for Knight-Ridder newspapers (They are no more). The company was at the forefront of recruiting and hiring diverse staffs. The chain’s exit seemed to coincide with a loss of a push for diversity. Interviewees were quick to say that an awareness still exists around diversity issues but are less important in staffing and more important in content and coverage (I believed and still believe the two have a common cause). The business of journalism was perceived to always be the filter through which any idealogically- or philosophically-based changes must pass.
I have shared what surprised me during my interviews and have been all but laughed at by other researchers. I found that age as a diversity issue raised its head more often than that of racial diversity for journalists. The finding speaks directly to the digital age’s exponential growth. Although I understand the need for more youthful voices, I still believe that an experienced journalist can be taught the new tricks of the trade and that their storytelling abilities match up against the awareness or technological skills of digital natives.
The time is now
England has led the way in journalism in many ways. To paint with a broad brush, London’s often irreverent and push-the-envelope approach to covering the news has affected journalism globally. It also has to deal with diversity like few other countries as members of the former British “colonies” have come home. During my trip in London, I expect to ask similar questions during interviews with journalists and educators as I did with their American counterparts. They are Lionel Morrison along with other members of the members of the National Union of Journalists including Connie St. Louis and Kamil Ahmed. I hope to explore how our countries’ cultures impact minority journalists before and in the midst of our new environment.
London, here I come.