Academic journal article Newspaper Research Journal

Editorial Comment

Academic journal article Newspaper Research Journal

Editorial Comment

Article excerpt

Without much fanfare, the University of Missouri School of Journalism, with funding from the Ford Foundation, has produced an important booklet that should serve as a critique of research about diversity, a compilation of much of the past research and a guide for the future.

"Like the journalism dealing with race, research in the area is fragmented and episodic," the authors say. "Individual scholars have done important, creative research. But, probably because of the underfunded and individualistic nature of most academic research, there have been few efforts to mount sustained, long-term efforts to identify and explicate the reasons that media coverage of race remains seriously flawed." The publication, "Guide to Research on Race and News," labels diversity "the most important domestic issue this country faces." The project was initiated several years ago, said Dean Mills, dean of the school, with the "overly ambitious goal of providing a guide for working reporters."

"But what became apparent was that it was too early to do that because, despite the fact that a lot of research has been conducted by academics, it's been pretty episodic," he said. "Most of it has not been related and very rarely has any researcher replicated what another has tried to do. So it became clear to us that it wasn't going to become a guide to working journalists except in the most general of ways." The goal then became to provide a base for researchers, showing what's been done on the subject and make it easier for them to find material that would be helpful for their research. The issue is important because "mainstream journalists still do little to help create understanding between the races. And some of what they do still does harm," the authors say. "The continuing problems in news content can be divided into three categories: sins of commission, sins of omission and problems caused by the professional norms and values of traditional journalism."

The authors grant their survey of diversity research shows modest improvements in both newsrooms and news content. …

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