As one of its key missions, the Radio Television Digital News Foundation promotes the hiring, training, promotion and retention of women and minority professionals in electronic news through professional training, networking, educational programs and research. By fostering discussion, RTDNF promotes cultural diversity in America’s newsrooms and specifically seeks to promote and increase the minority participation in newsroom management. RTDNF understands the importance of developing programming and resources for working minority news professions as well as for minority students, and provides training and educational opportunities for minority news professionals at every step of their career.
RTDNF fulfills this mission through:
- News management training workshops for minority professionals in radio, television and digital news at the annual Excellence in Journalism conference and other training sessions across the country
- Scholarships and fellowships for minority college students and young professionals preparing for or enhancing careers in television, radio and digital news
- Ongoing research into staffing trends for women and minorities in electronic newsrooms
- Recruitment training and written resources for the managers responsible for hiring newsroom personnel to help them find and keep qualified minority employees
- The Diversity Toolkit: A video and printed workbook to help broadcast and digital news organizations seeking to include more diverse voices on staff and in news content
THOUGHTS ON NEWSROOM DIVERSITY
We are so much more than color, race, ethnicity, culture and traditions. Diversity in the 21st century needs to recognize age, gender, sexual orientation, economic condition and lifestyle. But, we also should acknowledge and embrace differing perspectives as a core element of diversity.
In a newsroom, where journalists play gatekeepers of information, one’s race or gender, or whatever distinguishing characteristics might be assigned, may be less important than what perspectives he or she brings to the table. And when that perspective is being offered, journalists must be willing to give weight to differing perspectives when trying to report stories to their fullest.
For example, to put it in a more crude way, you do not have to be Asian to raise questions about how culture might have had an influence in an action or decision made by an Asian person. If you have knowledge that culture might have played a role in a story, as a journalist you need to offer that perspective at the discussion table and in your story. Similarly, if someone brings to the table a perspective that you had not considered before, as a journalist you have an obligation to listen and weigh that information in your pursuit of telling truths to the fullest. Doing so will help your audience get the most complete report possible. - Janice Gin, RTNDF Trustee
We might be in the 21st century, but we’re far from having truly diverse newsrooms. Cities with large minority populations don’t have true representation in the newsroom or in the stories that are covered. And, it goes beyond race. Diversity is also about culture and a difference of opinions. We don’t all think alike, and we all have different interests. More than likely, that’s part of the reason why local newscasts continue to lose viewership – because they’re not in tune with the reality of the market they cover. Perhaps when they take a good, strong, hard look at who’s gathering the news, who’s deciding what goes in a newscast and who their audience truly is, they’ll realize why diversity is important to success. - Veronica Villafane, Former President, National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Many managers and employers give lip service to diversity, but only because they’ve accepted it as the new catch phrase for racial equality and not because they believe in or even understand the benefits of diversity. There is an old cliché that variety is the spice of life. Diversity is the spice of thought. It brings in those different points of view that enrich the experience. There are so many instances of the person who didn’t follow the pack, follow the conventional thinking and created the new idea. That’s part of why it’s so important in the business world. It’s even more important to the “business of journalism.”
Diversity is too often the new tokenism of the 21st century. That’s because some see it as something you “have to do” and don’t see the value that diversity adds to the thinking process, the working process, the strategic and tactical considerations. One of the new “concepts” in business and consulting is the 360-degree view. In a globalized world, you have to be able to see things from all angles and directions – from 360 degrees. Diversity provides that 360-degree view.
Part of the problem is that diversity is seen as a “race issue.” But, it also means having an urban, suburban, rural point of view in the mix. It means having a rich, middle class, working-class point of view in the mix. It means having a Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim point of view in the mix. Diversity is additive to the process. The sooner people latch on to and internalize the true belief that diversity is a positive that makes things better and not just something they “have to do,” the better off and the more accepting and the richer we’ll all be. - Michael Castengera, Grady College of Journalism, University of Georgia
The concept of diversity being simply one person, one race, is changing. In this new era, one can look at another individual and see within him or her a spectrum of culture and ethnicity that is more vibrant and elusive to define. More and more barriers will be pushed aside, bridges will continue to be built, and I hope that even as people celebrate the differences between them, that more emphasis is put on celebrating the similarities we all share as human beings. The need to love and be loved, the basic principles of justice and fairness, and the drive to become a significant member of one’s own community shouldn’t disappear -- even as the once seemingly “clear-cut” definition of diversity becomes more hazy and vast. - Brian Bull, Native American Journalists Association
Diversity is inclusion and covering the under-covered and mitigating bias and prejudice. Each piece of the definition is a response to the perennial challenges journalists face in telling complete, complex, fair and accurate stories about the people they serve.
Inclusion is about consciously bringing people and issues into news coverage because they would otherwise be excluded. Covering the under-covered means telling stories that otherwise go untold. Mitigating bias and prejudice begins with the presumption that all journalists bring biases to work with them each day.
To do justice to diversity in storytelling, journalists need to build an awareness of their own biases and guard against them at every stage of the journalistic process – from story inception to the final edits before publication or broadcast. - Keith Woods, Poynter Institute
It seems there's a lot of pressure these days to craft news for a particular target demographic most coveted by the sales department. Part of diversity in journalism is having the courage to say, we're committed to having points of contact and building relationships with all segments of our community, and our coverage will reflect that. - Elliott Lewis, National Association of Black Journalists, Freelance Journalist
As journalists, our calling is a noble one. We are charged with holding the powerful accountable, pursuing the truth, telling meaningful stories and serving our communities. It is both a great privilege and an awesome responsibility. Each day, we must sort through vast amounts of information and make the smart and meaningful coverage choices that will best serve our viewers, listeners and users. We strive daily to be important, relevant and reflective of our communities. Those goals are easier to achieve when diversity is a priority, both in our coverage and in our newsrooms.
Diversity means recognizing our differences and celebrating that which makes each of us unique. It means searching for untold stories and giving a voice to those who might not previously have been included in our newsgathering. It means recognizing that diversity is not simply race or ethnicity, but also life experiences. Our newsrooms can – and should – be filled with individuals who can share those different perspectives with us. Our audiences are more diverse than ever – both in who they are and how they get their news. Our challenge in this new information age is to stay relevant and necessary to all of them. A meaningful commitment to diversity is one important step in the right direction. - Angie Kucharski, Former RTNDA/RTNDF Chair
Diversity has taken on many personalities throughout the years. It is no longer a black and white question, if ever it was. Today, diversity is as colorful as a rainbow and as broad as the ocean. It has come to mean different things for different people, but there is one constant, in order to move ahead and embrace change, we must never forget to include everyone in the discussion. Without communication there is chaos, and when chaos rules, fear and ignorance take root, leading to exclusion and prejudice. Diversity, to me, is being part of the solution. - Gary Wordlaw, Vice President and General Manager, WTXL-TV
DIVERSITY TRAINING RESOURCES
RTDNF's Diversity Toolkit is now available in PDF form. You are welcome to download it, print it and use it to develop a diversity workshop for your organization. The accompanying video companion piece is included here and is also available on the RTDNF YouTube channel.
DOWNLOAD THE DIVERSITY TOOLKIT
RTDNF's Recruiting For Diversity guide contains hundreds of resources to aid news managers in seeking out women and minorities as potential employees. The most recent edition of the guide is included here, and while the names of some personnel at the included organizations may have changed, the contact information is substantially up to date.
All materials © 2013 Radio Television Digital News Foundation
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