Diversity Profile Report of the AEJMC Standing Committee on Professional Freedom and Responsibility

By Stephens, Lowndes F. | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Diversity Profile Report of the AEJMC Standing Committee on Professional Freedom and Responsibility


Stephens, Lowndes F., Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


The purpose of this report is to examine the diversity profile of AEJMC membership - especially membership of the divisions and interest groups.1 The Standing Committee on Professional Freedom and Responsibility encourages divisions and special interest groups to set diversity goals. It is appropriate, then, that the committee provide information to the association on the diversity of the association itself.2 This report focuses on the gender and ethnic identity of members. Other elements of diversity are also important and of interest. Their exclusion here does not reflect a committee judgment of that importance, but rather a methodological data-collection decision.

Standard 12 of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) charges academic units that seek or wish to maintain accreditation to "demonstrate a commitment to increased diversity and inclusivity in their student populations and faculties and to the creation of a learning environment that exposes students to a broad spectrum of voices and views." The ACEJMC's guidance for meeting this standard implies a link between the diversity of a journalism and mass communication programs' faculty and student base and the diversity of opinion and information shared in these units:

"...While race and gender are not the only factors important in protecting and advancing a diversity of opinion and information, they contribute heavily to the divergent views in a multi-cultural society. Central to the mission of journalism and mass communications units is the preparation of students to serve such a diverse society. Because of this important role, journalism and mass communications educators must emphasize the importance of diversity and the roles of women and minorities in teaching students to understand, communicate about and relate to a multi-cultural society."3

Teaching and learning environments, educational goals and outcomes vary with the diversity of the student populations and faculties/administrations in journalism and mass communication programs. Dickson argues that white journalists' bias and insensitivity to minorities can be traced back to the classroom.4 Higginbotham, having encountered student resistance in classes in which she introduced new scholarship on race, class, and gender, varies her teaching strategies and the learning environment to create an atmosphere in which it is safe to explore issues of inequality.5

Bautista finds broad support among journalism and mass communication educators for internationalizing the curriculum and teaching cultural diversity - sentiments that hold among educators in accredited as well as non-accredited programs, in small and large undergraduate and graduate programs."6 Yet Manning-Miller and Dunlap, in a recent comprehensive secondary analysis of research on diversity, conclude that few journalism and mass communication programs are developing multicultural courses. These authors also conclude that the research questions and hypotheses driving diversity surveys in the academy need to be expanded beyond "headcounts" to include measures of student and faculty attrition rates, number of job offers made to faculty candidates of color and women, case studies of recruitment successes, and materials used in multicultural courses.7

McQueen, after evaluating diversification initiatives to increase the number of minorities and women faculty members in journalism and mass communication programs, concludes that from 1989 to 1998 little progress was made - a net change overall of the "addition of three-fourths of a woman and a half of a minority faculty member" for the typical j-school program in the United States. He offers suggestions for increasing the number of women and people of color hired and retained in journalism schools. Among the suggestions are targeted hiring, networking and mentoring initiatives, strong leadership on the part of administrators, and diversifying the pool of applicants to doctoral programs. …

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