The Diversity Debate: DNA or intellectually defined? Failures from classroom to newsroom cripple future

Mercedes Lynn de Uriarte (University of Texas at Austin, USA)

Thirty years ago, as civil rights gained ground in the United States and after segregation became illegal, U.S. newsrooms remained white. So in 1978, the American Society of Newspaper Editors set a goal for parity in the work force by the year 2000. Five years short of deadline and faced with little demographic change—minority gains average ½ of 1% per year—ASNE postponed the goal for 25 more years. Journalism education failed as significantly, but much more invisibly. Today fewer than 10% of all permanent journalism faculty, those preparing students for entry into the press, are minorities. So by DNA determinants, both the academy and the press seriously lag behind the nation in which about 1/3 of the population can be categorized as minorities—American Indians, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos. In 1984 the council that accredits journalism educational sites finally added diversity as a goal to be attained both within the professor corps and in material taught. Courses must include some on diversity, but students are not required to take them. The real struggle is one less frequently discussed—intellectual diversity. Journalism education prepares students for mainstream minds and jobs. Rarely is a course taught about the alternative press, let alone preparation to work in or write for one. Ethnic press is also mostly overlooked. So minority journalist face a Catch 22: if they write from a non-dominant perspective they risk losing their jobs—usually accused of ideologically driven work. If they do not the end result is often color coding. Different DNA, same message.

Timing - Saturday - Panel Session E2
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