Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Small Daily Leads in Diversity

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Small Daily Leads in Diversity

Article excerpt

Diversity, as Betty Barker Smith of The Baxter Bulletin is fond of saying, "is not a destination, it's a journey." Then again, the 11,456-circulation Bulletin's hometown of Mountain Home, Ark., probably isn't the first destination that occurs to ambitious journalists of color. While the Ozark vacation spot has its charms, racial and ethnic minorities make up a scant 2.9% of its population.

Yet the Gannett Co.-owned Bulletin boasts a diverse newsroom that would make far bigger newspapers green -- or black, brown, red, and yellow -- with envy.

This year, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) named the Bulletin the top winner in its inaugural "Diversity Pacesetter" awards for the newspaper's so-called "diversity index." This measurement compares a newsroom's percentage of minorities to the percentage of minorities in a paper's circulation area, with a score of 100 signifying balance.

With a newsroom that is 35.7% minority in nearly all-white Mountain Home, the Bulletin had an industry-high diversity index of 1,231. By contrast, daily newspapers overall have an index of 41.2.

So how has the tiny Bulletin been able to succeed in diversifying its newsroom while editors at big-city papers despair of ever reaching parity with their communities of color? Publisher Smith says the Bulletin emphasizes cultural differences in its editorial staff -- and reaches far and wide in recruiting outside the paper: "We've crafted a culture that recognizes diversity, and celebrates it. …

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