When you think of the appearance of a newspaper editor, what type of person comes to mind? This is the question Lauren Gustus, former executive editor at the Coloradoan, once asked a room full of potential future journalists during a 2016 panel on diversity in media. The answer most gave? They pictured an older, white male — and they’d be correct. As of November 2018, 77 percent of newsroom employees were white.
As reported by NPR, “Women and journalists of color remain a sliver of those producing and reporting stories … gender and ethnic diversity in newsrooms have hardly improved in the last decade despite increasing demand for more inclusive journalism in the current round-the-clock news cycle.” Statistics such as these fail to make it seem as though progress is happening, but it’s the conversation that is occurring that can start to create a difference.
During the panel, Michael de Yoanna, investigative reporter for KUNC radio said, “I will actively change the diversity equation at my station.” Other presenters nodded their heads in agreement that they, too, planned to make a difference. Yoanna continued, “I am really looking for individuals, regardless of their backgrounds.”
But even on the panel, the lack of diversity was clear, aside from the equal ratio of men to women — each speaker was a non-hispanic white person. The conversation happening within the panel, though, is what is going to make a difference in the move towards a more diverse newsroom. It is the behind-the-scenes journalists, like the ones mentioned above, who can help make a change in the industry, as long as they’re truly committed to doing so.