Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

The Importance of Diversity

Newsroom Diversity 8.17.12

Rev. Derrick Boykin, Bread for the World's associate for African-American leadership outreach, prepares for an interview. (Photo by Racine Tucker-Hamilton/Bread for the World)

by Susanne Ramirez de Arellano

Newsroom diversity is necessary. It is the driving force behind the honest and hard hitting reporting that is needed to effectively tackle issues such as hunger and poverty. At this year’s Unity conference—the fifth gathering of journalists of color—the hit taken by diversity in the media due to the recession was a central theme, alongside the shifting landscape and the digital frontier.

We exist in a Darwinian media whose architecture is expanding into different platforms with a rapidity that is stunning and at times confusing. Immediacy, flexibility, and mobility are the sons and daughters of the new technology.

 

Running parallel to these best of times is the worst-of-times fact that newsroom downsizing continues to flow from the front. It is diversity that has taken a direct hit. According to a census released by the American Society of News Editors and the Center for Advanced Social Media Research at the Missouri School of Journalism, total newsroom employment at daily newspapers declined by 2.4 per cent in 2011. The loss of minority positions in the newsrooms was 5.7 percent.

Hunger and poverty take a heavy toll on minority communities. This is especially true during periods of economic hardship. In times such as these, it is crucial that we encourage and foster a diverse media.  We must protect journalists who know the story because, in many cases, they have lived it. “Stories are about people. And the news is about people. People make the news,” ABC News anchor Peter Jennings used to say. Those telling their stories should be familiar with their plight and hold them equal in value.

Susanne Ramirez de Arellano handles Hispanic media outreach for Bread for the World.

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