Note #2 –
Roughly 15 minutes into nearly every public future of journalism event held this year, the same thing happened. Someone, somewhere commented (or tweeted) a variation of, “Where are the women and people of color? If the future of journalism is white dudes over 50, we’re screwed.” The repeated lack of diversity at these events is an illustration of the serious disconnect that many media makers still have to their own organizations’ future.
At a recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) workshop, Bryan Monroe, former editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines, argued that new media looks too much like the old media:
“I am going to talk about how white the Web is, and the threat that reality represents to journalism for our increasingly diverse nation,” he said. “Journalism is not dead. Not by a long shot. It is, however, in the process of painfully shedding its old skin for a new one. But, in the battle for its soul between old media and new media, something important is being lost: we are now living in a new America… If our newsrooms lack the broad ranges of culture, backgrounds and life experiences reflective of our society at large, how can we even hope to know what to cover and what appeals to a rapidly diversified marketplace?”
One of the key voices missing from many events and reports this year was that of ethnic media. These media outlets have important lessons to teach regarding the future of journalism. In general, these newsrooms have built strong ties to their audience by giving local people a voice and covering issues that mainstream media consistently overlooks. In his FTC testimony, Monroe points to a recent poll by New America Media that argued “Local, community-based Asian and Spanish language newspapers are also growing — up 16 percent in a recent study — as they cover immigrant and ethnic communities.”
If we are going to build a more diverse media and support new models in ethnic media, we must include diverse (women and people of color) voices at the table when we discuss the future of journalism. We must also engage more strategically with ethnic media and integrate a more diverse set of journalists and bloggers into our journalism endeavors.