Reporting diversity: A checklist
Reporting diversity: A checklist
This Checklist was developed by journalists, journalism professors and diversity advisers at a workshop at Carleton University in June, 1995. They exchanged information about diversity initiatives and how to sustain them; they shared experiences both positive and negative; they debated with vigor the difficulties and the merits, the problems and the advantages of greater diversity in both hiring and coverage; they worked at case studies based on real events; and they drafted this set of principles to help newsrooms respond better to the changes in Canadian society. They would like to share these principles, condensed and formatted as a checklist, with other newsrooms.
Reporting on DIVERSITY means reflecting all members of the community in a fair and accurate manner, and applying equal standards of scrutiny for all groups.
For beat and general reporters
• Am I covering all aspects, including positive and negative, of diverse communities?• Am I aware of the power of images• Do I avoid furthering stereotypes by seeking a diverse representation when interviewing people, no matter what the story?• Are the “labels” I use to describe people appropriate and necessary, and do they meet the guidelines of my news organization?• Do I regularly consult a variety of widely representative community (and minority) newspapers, radio and television programs and their editors and producers?• Do I involve all resources in our news organization as a way to enrich our coverage?• Do I help keep the diversity dialogue alive in the newsroom through questions, source suggestions and requests for explanation about news decisions?• Do I research diverse groups thoroughly, to avoid perpetuating stereotypes?• Do I include questions/allegations of systemic racism as context to specific stories, whenever I can do so fairly and responsibly?• Am I aware of factions and agendas within groups so that I do not fall prey to manipulation by prominent sources?• Do I get my assignment/city editors onside-show them how allowing me time to do background research will pay off with better coverage?• Do I take the time to consult peers and editors to gain a balanced overview when in doubt about the tone of a story?
For desk and assignment editors
• Am I giving reporters the time to develop diverse contacts and pursue a wide range of stories?• Am I creating a newsroom atmosphere that encourages reporters to move beyond traditional news gathering?• Am I personally exploring all sources of news, and open to non-traditional views and voices?• Do our story and photo ideas and our content perpetuate cultural or other stereotypes? Am I assessing whether our photographs and visuals accurately reflect the entire community?• Am I watching our use of language for bias?• Am I aware of minority sensitivities before setting and reviewing a style to describe groups or communities?• Are we under-playing or over-playing a story because of its diversity content?• Is our coverage of the actions of a few stereotyping an entire group?• Am I regularly reviewing the accumulative impact of our coverage?
For senior management
• Are we hiring the most qualified people? And are we making clear what those qualifications are?• Are we seeking to hire people who can bring diverse perspectives into our newsroom?• Are we looking for candidates in non-traditional places (e.g., ads in community papers; staff of community papers or cable television and community radio stations; and community groups or organizations)?• After hiring, are we supporting and training new employees?• Are we telling schools of journalism what we need?• Are we thinking long-term about recruitment (e.g., organizing job fairs, participating in high school media literacy programs)?
• Is there commitment from the top that diversity is important?• Are we clear what we’re prepared to invest to make it happen (e.g., outreach, assigning, mentoring)?• Are we telling diverse communities that we want their business?• Are we creating opportunities for reporting diversity?• Are we measuring progress regularly?