Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Critical Thinking: J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Critical Thinking: J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Article excerpt

Q :According to recent reports, women and minorities still lag behind Caucasian males in occupying newspaper executive positions. How would you suggest publishers balance the playing field?

A :I am a woman and editor-in-chief of my university's newspaper, and many of the paper's other top positions are held by women and minorities. This summer, I interned at The Sacramento Bee, whose editor and publisher are both women. So it's strange and scary to read diversity reports and realize that this is not the norm in newsrooms across the country. It's difficult for me to fathom that once I graduate and get a newsroom job, I may not have the same opportunity to rise through the ranks simply because of my gender, and my friends because of their race.

I think most people now realize that a newspaper is benefited greatly by executives and staff members who can provide different points of view and reflect the diversity of the community they serve.

To get people of diverse backgrounds in the newsroom, and eventually in decision-making positions, I think publishers first need to make diversity an explicit part of their mission. Policies and strategies may differ from newsroom to newsroom, but every publisher should invest in some sort of effort to recruit female and minority applicants for all positions. Even with budget constraints burdening many news businesses, I don't think diversity recruitment is an area they can afford to sacrifice. It may help to create relationships with organizations that provide support for women and minorities in journalism as avenues for awarding internships or jobs, or to reach out to individual university programs.

It seems to me that if a newsroom is diverse enough and breaks through the initial barrier of white male control, talent becomes the factor that separates staff and pushes them toward promotion. No one wants to feel like anything other than their work earned them success, but it's clear that women and minorities still need help in getting a fair shot at letting their work speak for itself.

A :First of all, stop making excuses. Over the last 40 or so years I have heard them all: "Well, there just aren't enough of them qualified for that job." "As soon as I hire a female, they take maternity leave." "They just aren't the fit the team needs." "There aren't enough mi-notifies down in the ranks to bring along." On and on it goes along the comfortable route, where the guys gather at staff meetings and, you know, be "the guys."

They are out there. …

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