On September 24, Newsweek published a cover with the large headline “MUSLIM RAGE” above a photo of screaming men, alluding to recent anti-U.S. protests in the Muslim world. Many respected media outlets denounced and mocked Newsweek for its sensationalist and simplistic portrayal of a diverse religious community.
For the October issue of The New Journal, we interviewed Cord Jefferson, a contributing editor for Gawker, who argued this error could have been avoided by bringing more diversity into the newsroom itself. But the philosophy of diversity and inclusion is as much about changing a broader mindset as it is about improving statistics.
News outlets have a responsibility to include and accurately portray underrepresented demographic groups in the issues they cover. As a publication that focuses on topics of social justice, The New Journal has to report in a nuanced way about Yale and the broader New Haven community.
The Society of Professional Journalists suggests looking at the way complex stories cross five specific “faultlines” or important social forces in the U.S. — race, class, gender, generation and geography. Thinking of sources along these lines will improve a piece’s accuracy and fairness.
Our editors and reporters consciously thought about issues of diversity as we worked on the October issue. For example, Adela Jaffe’s feature article “Where the Art Is” discusses the way local artist Gordon Skinner’s race and socioeconomic background affects his perception of his status in New Haven’s art scene.
However, we know this is an ongoing and difficult process. We are primarily trying to think broadly and source widely — keeping an open mind when reporting on varied backgrounds and sourcing outside of their comfort zones.
A gap exists in the framework of mainstream media that allows for the promotion of ignorant beliefs. We would like to be part of the solution.
Juliana Hanle and Aliyya Swaby