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Why diversity?

By David Yarnold

Diversity in your content is as important as getting people’s names right. It’s a fundamental component of accuracy.

It comes down to a question of credibility: If readers don’t see themselves and hear their voices in your pages, they will no longer view you as a credible source of information.

Having diverse content is important to me because I want to be able to look a Latino leader or a lesbian activist in the eye and say, “This is your newspaper.” I want our pages to mirror the ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic, political and religious makeup of the community we serve.

Having diverse content is important for our paper because we’re based in a county that is 48 percent white — the rest is made up of other ethnic groups. Our commitment begins with the newsroom mission statement, which we publish every day on Page 2A. It reads, in part: “We will reflect the changing demographics of the community in both coverage and hiring, recognizing that diversity is a core component of accuracy.”

This commitment manifests itself in news meetings where senior editors regularly address diversity in our daily critiques, which then are synthesized by our managing editor, Susan Goldberg, and sent to every staff member.

Having diverse content is important for journalism as a whole because by 2050, America will be a majority of none. You owe it to yourselves and your readers to make your newsrooms and pages as diverse as the communities you will be serving.

The SPJ Source Book can be an invaluable resource for you. In the hands of an open-minded journalist, this book can lead you to sources who can take you and your readers to places you’ve never been before. I mean that figuratively and literally.

It’s all about making your journalism more authentic and, therefore, more accurate.

David Yarnold is the executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News.

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