As a Mexican-American journalism student, one of my worries after I graduate is whether I’ll be able to enter the news industry.
Although as in any other job, skills and experience as well as a good resume can be very helpful when applying for a position at a magazine or marketing company, the reality is that in almost all newsrooms across the country, the staff that created the daily news we consume do not reflect the diversity that exists in our society.
What happens when a reporter is asked to cover immigration but he or she does not approach sources that are living in that situation.? I’m not saying that a Latino should only cover immigration stories, but it is common for certain journalists to only rely on official sources, like police, to add to their stories, without regard of the most important perspective in a story like immigration, the men or woman who may be facing immigration on a daily base, whose account would definitely add a very unique human element to the story and provide a different insight into the issue.
According to the Society of Professional Journalists, the issue on the lack of diversity in the newsrooms, could come from a very old issue. Even as more advances in technology have helped society to move forward, one thing that has been slowly changing are stereotypes.
In today’s society, old stereotypes surround Latinos, African-Americans and Asian-Americans, only 13 percent of the staff in newspapers are people of color, and, when look at it in the grater scale across 967 daily newspapers in the U.S that percentage is so small that it would indicate the big media we consume everyday is not reflective of the society we live in.
But not everything is discouraging in the media industry. the SPJ reports that non-media companies are enforcing strategies to have a more diverse staff and providing the same opportunities to all their employees.
Diversity in society as well as in the newsroom or any other media company, benefits everyone. By having staff with different cultural backgrounds, the creative atmosphere can grow and an overall progress in efficiency can motivate everyone to compete in a positive way.
Another issue that could be affecting the lack of diversity in the newsroom is that news organizations have been suffering economic problems as their advertising revenue has continuously decreased.
Likewise, the people who get higher education tend to be white, as opposed to minorities achieving B.A’s or M.A degrees.
The Columbia Journalistic Review gives four steps newsrooms can take to face the issue of poor diversity.
- Recognize there is a problem
- Work on eliminating barriers
- Focus on stories that can interest everyone, not just one group of people
- Actually keep jobs for journalists of all backgrounds
In paper it all sounds viable and easy, but to actually put strategies into place takes time and commitment to make newsrooms more inclusive. Even if it takes time, its important for media companies across the country to put the effort into creating a diverse newsroom where different stories can be produces, as a reflect of the industry changing, and of our society as well.