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Archive for the ‘Diversity’ Category
23 Dec

Introducing Forbes to Media Diversity

You can see more diverse journalists of color — of all ages — in this spreadsheet: http://diversify.journalismwith.me/. You can read about how this came about here: Crowdsourcing ‘web journalism rockstars of color’

15 Nov

An inside look at Unity Programming

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While it sooner than you think, the deadline to propose a UNITY 12 workshop is this Friday, November 18. All proposals are welcomed, but to help solicit strong submissions co-program chairs Paul Cheung and Robert Hernandez interviewed themselves to create a collaborative Q&A blog post.

Q: How is this Unity programming different from previous years?
RH: Well, for me, we’ve reached a point in journalism that feels like we’ve risen from the ashes and are hungry to push journalism forward. I think the programming needs to reflect that by being progressive and diverse in every respect.

What it will be: Our sessions will include a lot of hands-on skills training; some crowdsourced best practices; some controversial panels that make us uncomfortable; some discussions that lead to practical take aways.

What it won’t be: Routine discussions about the lack of diversity. Routine PowerPoint slideshows where the presenter talks and the audience only listens. Complaining and harping that the “good ol’ days” are behind us.

This is an exciting time for journalism and this conference will not only reflect that, but prepare you for it. I will admit, Paul and I were disappointed with the past programming. That’s why we signed up. UNITY 2012 is for me and all the like-minded journalists that want to advance journalism in this exciting digital age – together.

Q: Talk about your experiences running AAJA’s and NAHJ’s conferences. What do you hope to bring over to the UNITY 12 convention?
PC: It’s important to be think demos and not memos. Instead of speakers telling us how great their project are, we want them to show us HOW it was done. At the AAJA conventions, we look for experts from within and outside of our industry. In UNITY 12, you can expert us to raise the bar in presenters.

RH: For the last six years or so I’ve been running the New Media track for the NAHJ conference… if you’ve attended, you’ve seen how we’ve doubled hands-on sessions and really have pushed to prepare our attendees with some great skills – from intro to advanced. I’m proud to be on the Online News Association board, where I know they were “inspired” by my NAHJ workshops and brought those types of sessions to its conference. I organized and was proud of the pre-conference workshops offered at ONA11. Paul and I will bring these types of workshops front and center to the conference. That said, we want thought-provoking sessions as well, not just skills and tech… but these thought-provoking topics need to be framed and presented in a more engaging way. And, because we are UNITY, we want every panel to reflect diversity as much as possible. Side note: There will be the Geek Out session.

Q: What advice do you give someone who wants to submit a panel/workshop/session for UNITY 12?
PC:

  • Be specific on a problem or a question you want the workshop to answer and not to be too general.
  • More speakers does not equal better panels.
  • Keep the tracks we have in mind.

RH: I agree with Paul. Also, like the modern news consumer, no one wants to be dictated to so make sure you factor in true engagement with the audience. Don’t re-hash old debates, but bring the topic and discussion forward. Offer practical take aways. Be passionate about the topic. Remember, this may be the only training a journalist gets in a year… make your session well worth it!

Q: Can you elaborate on the tracks (Current News/Hot topics, Multimedia, New Media, Platforms, Professional developments and Personal developments)? For example What’s the difference between new media and multimedia?

RH: Well, let’s try to answer the second half of the question first. We look at Multimedia as cross-platform storytelling. Something every journalist — regardless of whether they mainly work on print, broadcast, pixels, etc — needs to be able to do.

  • Examples: Photography for non-photographer, Producing an Audio Slideshow or How to shoot video with your pocket camera

New Media, for me, is about technology and how it advances our journalism. Its applying the latest technology to our daily jobs.

  • Examples: Real-Time Reporting through Social Media, how to use free webtools to do datavisualizations, the latest hardware and software or apps that help you simplify your life.

PC: Platforms, for me, is about development and topics that is specific to the platform.
Examples: How to you transport your skills from print to broadcast, the art of one person anchor / TV producer

The other tracks I feel are somewhat self-explanatory. While these are somewhat ‘traditional’ tracks to help organize our conference, we expect and will be looking forward to those progressive sessions that truly advance the discussions and lessons.

  • For professional developments: A session on how to write a business proposal or the reality of start-up business
  • For personal developments: A Rachel Ray like demo on how to eat healthy on deadline or financial planning
  • For current news: Ten innovative ways of reporting 2012 US Elections or the London Olympics.

Q: This a lot of work for just the two of you? Who is helping you organize and shape this conference?
We are not alone in this. The programming committee is comprised of a diverse group of journalists from AAJA, NAHJ, NAJA and NLGJA.

  • AAJA: Ted Kim and Victoria Lim
  • NAHJ: Elizabeth Aguilera and Hiram Enriquez
  • NAJA: Tom Arviso and Rhonda LeValdo
  • NLGJA: Sarah Blazucki and Barbara Dozetos

If you have specific questions, concerns suggestions… please join us for a Google+ Hangout Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 3:30PM PT / 6:30PM ET. Go here: http://bit.ly/unity12-hangout

To submit your proposal go to: http://bit.ly/unity12-proposals // The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 18, 2011

27 Jun

What if we are part of the voiceless community?

NOTE: Republished on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201106/1987/

I hate hypocrites… especially when they’re journalists.

I’ve been a bit disappointed with how some journalists have been writing about Jose Antonio Vargas‘ recent announcement that he is an undocumented immigrant. Many are questioning Vargas’ journalistic credibility because he had to hide his immigration status.

Jose Antonio VargasAs if journalists – including columnists and editors – have never lied before or broken any laws. (Just think about your college years.)

Like the communities we cover, newsrooms are filled with sinners and saints… perfectly flawed human beings.

But lies have different degrees, don’t they?

It wasn’t long ago that people had to hide, or lie about, being gay. They had to conceal a part of their true identities to avoid discrimination or to get a job, including one as a reporter.

While they felt forced to hide a part of themselves, something tells me they still made strong journalists and did not lie in their reporting.

If I recall correctly, when the gay marriage issue erupted in San Francisco, The Chronicle pulled a gay photographer off the story because editors assumed a conflict of interest. What Chronicle editors failed to note is that straight people also have opinions about gay marriage that may also pose a conflict of interest.

The bottom line is, as far as I know, Vargas never lied in his stories. And just because he had to hide about being part of a certain community, it doesn’t automatically nullify his journalistic credibility or achievements.

Being a part of a community does not disqualify him as a journalist.

Just like Diane Sawyer, for example, isn’t disqualified as a journalist because she worked in Republican Party politics before, during and after President Nixon’s administration and subsequent resignation. Same as George Stephanopoulos isn’t disqualified after working for President Clinton’s administration.

They are just two of many examples.

What has bothered me the most, really, is how journalists are treating Vargas as “other” … as if his reality is not a common one. As if undocumented immigrants, or illegal aliens or whatever label you use, aren’t part of our communities.

We are all made up of different communities, and these often are the same communities we attempt to cover through our journalism. Some communities we praise, others we tolerate and others go unacknowledged.

I, like many others, believe that a diverse newsroom – comprised of different communities – makes for stronger, more relevant journalism. But the sad reality is that not all communities are seen as equal – or as newsworthy.

Our job is to give voice to the voiceless… but what happens if we are part of the voiceless community?

That’s the position Vargas found himself in. And he, like others from different communities before him, decided to come out and remind people the “other” is really a part of “us.”

About a year ago, I actually wrote a post about this topic, but under advisement from my closest editor I deleted it.

The post was inspired by Harvey Milk‘s powerful message: “You must come out” to give a real face to a community that is under attack. This was around the time of Arizona’s SB1070 bill.

My editor thought my post could be taken out of context and hurt my career.

I don’t know how these words will be taken… and quite frankly, I’ve debated whether or not I should ever publish them… but I hope my editor is not right.

In light of Vargas’ story – one that took more courage to share than my story – I feel that I am obligated to share my experience.

Allow me, however, to frame the reason why I am sharing my story now:

  • I’m not asking for any political action. (Don’t call me an activist.)
  • I’m not trying to ride Vargas’ coattails. (Don’t call me a poser.)

I’m writing this because as journalists we can’t afford to forget that we are part of the “other” … that good journalism is truly inclusive.

I, like everyone else, am part of multiple communities: I am a father, a husband, a renter (former homeowner), college graduate, an educator, a Roman Catholic (but I often disagree with the church) and the son of immigrants from El Salvador.

While my mother entered the country by plane with the right papers, my father entered by crossing the border illegally in the 70s.

He quickly became a U.S. citizen.

But let’s be honest here, the act of an immigrant crossing the border without the right papers in pursuit of a better life often overshadows their accomplishments as legal citizens.

To clarify, I was born a U.S. citizen. But all my success as a person and as a journalist, I owe to my immigrant parents.

My father, like millions of other immigrants, reflects the story of America – whether we want to admit it or not. Coming to this land (by any means necessary) with nothing, working [expletive] hard and making a better life for himself and his family.

For the record, my father graduated at the top of his high school class in El Salvador, which earned him a scholarship to Germany. He worked there, but giving into the request from my mother’s family, he moved to the United States after marrying her.

My father ran several small businesses and was a homeowner for more than 40 years. He lost them in the bad economy, but had relaunched his auto repair shop early last year. He passed away in November and the outpouring of support from the local community was a true testament to his accomplishments. That man helped so many people… I had no idea.

My mother struggled and worked hard in her own immigrant story. She made a small living by cleaning houses and other service jobs, including working at the food court of Cal State University, Northridge. She joined my father as an entrepreneur until they separated.

I can tell you more about their story, but let me just say this: “Their” story is part of “my” story. And “my story” is part of “our” community. And all of that is part of journalism. To shun someone, even a journalist, for owning their story, their community, is bad journalism.

If you invalidate Vargas as a journalist for being an illegal immigrant, you are a journalist in denial thinking that he is not part of your community (the one you are trying to cover).

Again I ask: Our job is to give voice to the voiceless… but what if we are part of the voiceless community?

If you are part of a community that is being attacked or politicized, as a journalist it takes courage to step forward and speak up, not as an activist… but as someone who wants facts to prevail. Not talking points.

I applaud Vargas for his courage. He’s a reminder that the “other” is really within “us.”

19 Jan

Crowdsourcing ‘web journalism rockstars of color’

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201101/1931/

For this week’s blog post, I chatted (through e-mail) with up-and-coming journalist Emma Carew, the driving force behind a new Web journalist of Color spreadsheet.

Recently, there seems to be an ongoing conversation about diversity in our newsrooms (especially Web newsrooms) again. One of the results from that conversation is the spreadsheet you created. Can you describe this project and how it came about?

Following Retha Hill‘s post on MediaShift IdeaLab about diversity at recent ONA and Newsfoo conferences, I was excited to weigh in during the Twitter chat on #mediadiversity. People mentioned hearing, “we can’t find any qualified minorities,” for speaker presentations and conferences. I was shocked to hear this, because I could have easily listed a dozen or more journalists of color doing amazing things with journalism and the web — these are people I look up to, who have mentored me. We all left the chat on Twitter promising to take action and spread the good word. A few days went by and when no list to promote these fine folks appeared, I knew it was something that I could initiate. By reaching out to my network, we were able to assemble about 75 names, all top-notch journalists of color working with journalism and the web. Anyone looking to put together panels of amazing journalists looking to share their story, no longer has an excuse for putting together an all-white, all-male conference.

How have the names been selected? What has been the process? Is there a general criteria for who makes this list?

About eight contributors are continuing to cultivate the list, which is open for public viewing. Anyone can nominate themselves or others by contacting one of the authors. Our loose criteria have been these: journalists of color, doing great work in web journalism, and who would have something interesting to share on a panel. The goal is to identify as many web journalism rockstars of color as possible.

NOTE: Full-disclosure, I am one of the eight that curates the list and am also hosting the spreadsheet on my server. Others include Sharon Chan, Michelle Johnson, Doug Mitchell, Juana Summers and Benet Wilson.

What is your vision, your goal for this project? What would you like to see happen here?

My hope would be to see better representation of journalists of color, both as attendees and speakers, at journalism conferences such as the UNITY organizations, SPJ, ONA and IRE. The leadership of these associations have a great opportunity to widen their circles. I’d love to see the project embraced and promoted by the national journalism leaders. Diversity shouldn’t only be a priority for the UNITY groups.

Diversity is more than ethnicity. Is there any thought to expanding the spreadsheet to include gay/lesbian, women or other communities that are under represented in our newsrooms?

I definitely agree, and we are certainly open to representing diversity of all types. In the current setup, there are eight authors who are collaborating to keep the list organized and “vet” the names when we come across an unfamiliar name. We currently have representation of some kind from all four UNITY organizations. If there are leaders (official or unofficial) from NLGJA or other journalism associations who would like to get involved, please contact us.

So what has been the reaction to your project so far?

I think it’s been well received in the smaller UNITY org circles. The list is growing slowly and each of the authors has continued to reach out to leadership in our respective associations. It’s an important time for the list to be circulating and continue the conversation with summer journalism conventions coming up.

What have you learned from the project?

Working on this project has been a great reminder of a few things. First, being that it’s not enough to idly sit by and try to tweet the the change you want to see. At some level, you have to just take a leap and try. This project has also been a good reminder of the importance of good mentors. This project would not have gotten off the ground as neatly or quickly had it not been for some excellent guiding hands

Tell me a little about your journalism background. I hear you recently took a new job.

I got my start in journalism at a high school program called the Urban Journalism Workshop, now called ThreeSixty Journalism. During college, I interned at the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, the Washington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education, mostly focusing on business, education and data journalism. I spent six months working for the Chronicle of Philanthropy working on data projects, especially on how to best present them online. Next week I will be joining the startribune.com team as a home page producer.

The struggle for journalism diversity has gone for years, decades even. How have you personally benefited by those who have worked hard for diversity?

The program I got my first start has its roots with the Twin Cities Black Journalists association (our local NABJ chapter). From the start, I was surrounded by talented journalists of color who had an interest in my success. Being a member of AAJA for six years has filled in the gaps of all the things they forget to teach you in J school: networking, mentorships, how to be a great intern, and how to fight for the things you believe in. I’m grateful to those who have blazed the trail before me, and I’m excited to continue in their path. There’s still a lot of work to be done around diversity in the media.

When I can, I like ending my interviews with journalists with the same question … In an environment of furloughs, layoffs and budget cuts… where we work more with less … in these ‘tough times,’ where we are in constant evolution … Why are you a journalist?

Unfortunately as a first-year reporter, these times are the only ones I have ever known firsthand. I remain an optimist, especially the more I move toward digital and multiplatform work. I firmly believe in the need for excellent journalism in our communities, for it’s role as a watchdog and the art of our storytelling. I became a journalist because it was the only career I have ever considered. I remain a journalist because I know our work is far from done.

Thank you so much Emma. You should be really proud of the work you’ve done, especially this project.

Robert thanks so much for all your work on this. It’s been a great experience and I hope to see its success play out.

07 Jan

Digital + Diversity: What does your newsroom reflect?

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NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201101/1926/

If you ask a Web journalist what the newest, important tool a news organization needs to embrace today, they’d probably say Social Media. They’re right, it’s not a fad.

If you were to ask them to make a prediction or guess where the future of technology is headed, chances are they’d say mobile. Smart phones are getting smarter, smaller and cheaper. (And, one day Verizon will carry the iPhone – I believe!)

If you were to ask me what one element newsrooms need to embrace, outside of technology, my answer is a simple one: diversity. Can we make that a New Year’s resolution?

I’m not talking about being politically correct. I’m talking about having diverse experiences and points of views that shape and literally define what is news.

I believe that the lack of diversity – gender, age, religion, sexual-orientation, socioeconomic background, politics, bus riders, cyclists, video game addicts, etc. as well as ethnicity – in our newsrooms in all roles, especially leadership ones, is one of the main causes of lower circulation and loss of general reader/viewer engagement.

Again, I’m not talking about being politically correct. I’m just saying if we are not made of all our communities, how are we expected to relate and be relevant to all those communities?

Let me give you an example:
One of my early Web specials I did in my career was the 20th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic. I was representing SFGate.com as I sat around the table with print reporters and editors. You have to understand, the San Francisco Chronicle was crucial in the news coverage twenty years before with the incredible work by Randy Shilts.

These people were professionals and I was still the relatively new kid working with that new medium.

But as they spoke, I noticed that all the stories were about gay, white males. No one talked about that the fastest growing HIV/AIDS demographic was straight, black females.

They were the pros. I was just a punk kid.

Staying quiet is one of my biggest regrets in my career. I swore no matter how awkward or uncomfortable, I had to always speak up.

That chair I was sitting in wasn’t just for me. It was for all the communities I was a part of… and all the others that I wasn’t, but weren’t at the table. I have to rep everyone. You know, that voiceless thing.

Here’s another example:
Do you remember when someone tried to reinstate the draft back in 2003? I was sitting at the morning news meeting as the draft talks began to heat up and we started brainstorming on how to cover the story.

In a room of incredibly talented and experienced journalists, the angles included talking to teachers, parents, Vietnam vets, recruiters … but I was shocked that well into the discussion I had to raise my hand and mention, how about talking to high schoolers?

The room forgot to include the demographic that was going to be most affected by the draft.

But the lack of diversity in newsrooms isn’t new. Women have been battling the glass ceiling for decades and studies, like the one from ASNE, have shown a depressing lack of ethic diversity for years.

So, why am I bringing it up?

Let me give you another example:
In a recent PEW study, it found that African-Americans and Latinos “are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white internet users.”

In several not-so-recent studies, they found that Latinos are ahead of the curve in embracing mobile devices and its behavior. They are more likely to text message, download music, play games and access social networking.

Yet, how come there isn’t a reflection of that diversity in those Web journalism jobs? While there is a lack of diversity in newsrooms, why is there even more so on the Web side?

The digital divide? Sure, but not the one you are thinking. Those studies show “minorities” are on the advanced side of the divide and others are behind.

Diversity, and the possible lack there of, was raised as a concern after the recent invitation-only Newsfoo submit.

At last year’s SXSWi panel about the future of news it was all white men.

Look, I’m not saying that your ethnicity or gender or whatever is a requirement to do a better job for any of these tasks.

What I am saying is that if we don’t reflect our communities – both on- and off-line – we’re doomed. If we don’t listen to others outside of our own, individual communities we’ve missed the point of journalism.

This isn’t about hiring “us” over “them” … this is about how all off us strengthen journalism by reflecting our diverse communities through relevant coverage … and that the coverage is shaped by those that make up the newsroom.

That’s the premise of hyperlocal journalism, isn’t it? That a local or insider would know what is more relevant to their community rather than an outsider.

So, why can’t we overcome this challenge? It’s 2011.

PBS’ MediaShift recently held a Twitter chat on media diversity.

Thankfully, it’s on people’s minds again.

I routinely get asked for names of diverse candidates to apply for Web journo jobs… but here’s the thing, while I know plenty of reporters, editors photographers, etc., my network of diverse Web journos isn’t as strong as it should.

Y’all, I’m a lifetime member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, board member of Online News Association, been to nearly every alphabet soup of conferences and I’m still struggling to diversify my Web journo network.

So what do we do about it? We need more solutions outside of forming another damn diversity committee.

The fact is, these diverse communities are already on the advance side of the tech divide… but they are not on the journalism side. Perhaps they aren’t aware of a journalism career as an option? Perhaps they don’t see themselves in our coverage? Perhaps they feel like there is no place at the table for them to help shape news?

Whatever it is, we need to do something. And I need some help in figuring this out.

In addition to being on the ONA board, I’m overseeing the all day workshops at the next conference, I’m co-program chair for UNITY 2012, I’m the New Media track coordinator for the NAHJ annual conference and I run #wjchat, a weekly Web journalism chat.

If we don’t invest in recruiting and training members of diverse groups to help us do and advanced journalism … we are royally screwed.

My New Year’s resolution is to harness my access and network to improve diversity across the board for Web journalism. But I need your help. I need your ideas.

More importantly, in your newsrooms, your communities (and those you are not a part of) need your help. Reach out, connect, participate, preach and downright fight to ensure your news org’s journalism reflects the diverse community it covers. Help it stay relevant.

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