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Diversity Committee
On both chapter and national levels, SPJ provides an open forum for the discussion of diversity issues in journalism. This committee's purpose is to promote a broader voice in newsrooms across the country and expand the depth and quality of news reports through better sourcing. Its ongoing project is the compilation of experts — primarily women, gays and lesbians, people of color and people with disabilities — through the Society's Diversity Source Book. The Society's relevance to its member is based on inclusiveness.

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Sandra Gonzalez
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Home > Diversity > SPJ Diversity Programming

Diversity
SPJ Diversity Programming across the Country

SPJ's Diversity committee compiled this report so that chapters can get a sense of what others are doing and borrow ideas. Keep in mind that the diversity mission should cross into and connect with your other missions, such as FOI and ethics. Most chapters accomplished some interesting diversity work this year; many partnered with other organizations for events and activities. A few did nothing, and in some surprising markets.


Top Performers

Indiana (large chapter award winner)
Collaborated with UNITY member groups to create two $2,500 scholarships for high school seniors entering college, presented after a day-long workshop program capped by the scholarship presentation and a keynote speaker. Funding provided through a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Program for aspiring journalists at an Indiana high school with a growing Hispanic population. Almost 100 students participated. Programming was presented by bilingual journalists and conducted in Spanish.

NW Arkansas (small chapter award winner)
Started a mentoring program with 15 journalism students at the University of Arkansas.

Supported the UA journalism department’s Multicultural News. The program brings in high school students (mostly Latino) for six consecutive Saturday mornings to write about diversity issues in NW Arkansas, which has seen its Latino population grow to 20 percent in the past decade. Also has a large settlement of Marshallese. Chapter members donate their time to teaching, coaching and editing.

Programming: A panel on writing about gay and lesbian issues featured four local citizens, including a priest from an Episcopal congregation that offered a rite of blessing for gay couples; a man who sued for an end to Arkansas sodomy laws; a KUAF producer who wrote her master’s thesis on gay and lesbian politics; and a local doctor whose partner, a former law school dean, died last summer and who spoke about news coverage of their relationship. Another panel focused on press coverage of immigration issues. Athelia Knight from the Washington Post spoke about diversity in journalism; Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star columnist, talked to members about African Americans and journalism in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Cynthia Rodriquez, Denver Post, visited the University of Arkansas campus and the chapter hosted a dinner with her to discuss diversity in journalism.

This chapter includes daily newspapers, weeklies, network affiliates plus Spanish-language media in its Gridiron Show.

Greater Los Angeles
Program on “Mexico’s Presidential Election: Will America Tune In?” Coincided with Mexican presidential debates and conducted in Spanish. Panelists came from media on both sides of the border and the room was packed.

Monthly mixers included Oscar Garza, editor of Tu Ciudad magazine as a speaker

Co-sponsored an annual holiday party for journalists with AP, RTNDA Los Angeles, AAJA, Chicano News Media Association, LA Press Club and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.


Other Ideas

Bluegrass Pro
“Beat the Press” annual event. Incorporated diversity in a “reverse” press conference in which the public, state legislators and lobbyists grilled journalists about how they do their jobs, handle sources, and the like. Moderated by Al Cross, former SPJ president.

Chicago Headline Club
Integrated diversity into its regular programming. Leonard Pitts provided the keynote address at the Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism. The chapter asked Ellis Cose, author of the books including The Rage of a Privileged Class and A Man’s World and Newsweek contributing editor, to speak at the Lifetime Achievement Awards dinner.

Cincinnati
Co-sponsored two sessions with NABJ and hosted Leonard Pitts Jr. as a speaker. Contributed $150 toward scholarships for students from a poor high school to attend a youth journalism conference.

Central Ohio
Programming included a reporter who had traveled to Somalia to cover the exodus of Bantus to Columbus, Ohio; a local author who had written about a 1925 racially charged murder trial in Detroit; and a co-sponsored workshop on writing about religion.

Cleveland Pro
Ethics seminar on “Religion, Politics and the News Media.”
Panel on “Newsroom diversity: Myth and Reality.”

Colorado Pro
Created a diversity committee and began emphasizing diversity as it recruits for leadership roles in the board and committees. Collaborated with ethnic and community journalism organizations.

Greater Oregon
Collaborated with AAJA on a half-day program, “Ethics and the Future of Journalism.”

Hawaii
A diverse board integrates diversity throughout Hawaii’s work, including an FOI forum, its Gridiron show and paid internships.

Houston
Hosted a discussion on diversity in the newsroom with two local experts.

Kansas City
Programs featured a speaker on the ethics of reporting via online teen diaries, a story that the reporter learned about while at a meeting at high school Gay/Straight Alliance; a speaker on a broadcast story he had crafted about the Aryan Alternative Newspaper and a discussion about how and when to cover hate speech; and a forum that included Christian conservatives, scientists and media on new science standards in schools.

Louisville Pro
Panel on “Louisville’s ‘Other’ Newspapers” included editors from alternative weeklies, a business paper, and a paper that serves the black community.

Minnesota
Program on understanding and covering the growing Latino community. Speakers included Spanish-language media.

Montana Pro
Program on diverse sourcing in coordination with AP Broadcasters Conference.

NorCal Pro
One of many chapters to partner with UNITY member organizations and NLGJA for a holiday party. A panel on the concentration of press ownership included ethnic media in the mix.

Oklahoma Pro
Outreach to high school students through the Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism. Efforts to diversify membership.

San Diego
Another UNITY holiday party, plus a Media Payback Panel that included diverse perspectives. A session on the dangerous conditions of covering news south of the border brought in reporters from Baja California and included translation.

Valley of the Sun (Phoenix)
Lecture by New York Times reporter Timothy Egan on “The Search for Place,” the modern Western migration, and what it means to be a Westerner.

UNITY gathering to talk over areas of common ground with leaders of local chapters of NABJ, AAJA, NAHJ and NLGJA.

Virginia Pro
A lecture on “The Future of Newspapers” featured Caesar Andrews, editor of the Detroit Free Press. The reception that followed allowed members and students to engage with Andrews, one of the most well-known African American editors in the country. Co-sponsored with Virginia Commonwealth University.

Partnered with Virginia Commonwealth University on a lecture by Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker on “The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Role of the Press in the Civil Rights Movement,” followed by a reception.

Organized an event on “The Art of Conversation and Collaboration” with the Richmond Black Media Professionals featuring a leadership trainer.

Washington DC
Panel on “Can Public Confidence be Restored?” focused on the New York Times story exposing the government’s warrant-less wiretaps and the Danish cartoons that led to Muslim protests in many countries.

Joined members of the local NLGJA chapter to see ‘Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Went to see a play called “The Story” loosely based on Janet Cooke’s fabricated story about an 8-year-old heroin addict that touched on racism, economic disparity and newsroom politics.

William O. Douglas Pro (Washington State)
Session on religion in American life taught by a reporter who had attended a Knight Center for Specialized Journalism session on the topic.

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