Convener: George Benge

Note taker:  Doug Floyd


  • George Benge
  • Doug Floyd
  • Bobbie Jo Buel
  • Mark Heleniak
  • Kristin Gilger


Mainstream newspapers are structured to overlook issues of diversity in our communities — middle-class reporters and editors collecting news for middle-class readers.  In so doing, we miss the niche audiences that specialized newspapers and many radio stations target.  Maybe our journalism is driven by mass-appeal marketing values.

To be inclusive, we want to reach out to new audiences while holding on to our traditional readership base.  That means assertively looking for a wider mix of faces and voices in our reporting.  (Buel says her paper offers a cash prize to the reporters who do the best job of reflecting diversity in their stories.)

Reporting on minority communities requires building bridges of trust,  which takes time and effort.  It also takes understanding of cultural differences in the way individuals acquire and hold power, in the expectations of newspapers.

As demographics shift, we realize that inclusion is a forward-looking business investment — in terms of both content and staffing.  As with other policy decisions, it’s critical to get reporters to value diversity.  It’s counterproductive to hire minority reporters and then undermine the diversity they bring to the newsroom by trying to make them think and act like everyone else.  Alert editors will recognize that sometimes rules and policies interfere with inclusion and it may be necessary to amend or eliminate those rules and policies.

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