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Home > Publications > Quill > Great resources abound to diversify election coverage


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Thursday, September 27, 2007
Great resources abound to diversify election coverage

Sally Lehrman

We have already debated Barack Obama’s blackness and discussed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s cleavage. No question: Journalists could apply a far more sophisticated lens to this historic moment, when a black American, a Hispanic and a woman vie with other candidates for our country’s top job.

So far, most journalists have confined themselves to personality and image, said Tram Nguyen, executive editor of ColorLines magazine. We can and should do much more.

“This is an opportunity to bring out some of the race and gender issues that have been hidden in our society,” Nguyen says.

Obviously, campaign coverage will require an analysis of each candidate’s proposals and their potential impact on the various segments of the nation’s multicultural population. Perhaps, however, this moment also will enable journalists to reach deeper into some topics we often have trouble addressing. Like what, you say?

Here is a list of starting points. The resources offered here tend to have been written from a particular point of view, but you can report them more broadly in order to provide balanced and in-depth stories on some topics rarely covered.

1. How immigration and migration trends are affecting U.S. institutions and the electorate.

The Pew Hispanic Center has compiled a wealth of material on education, wages, economics and identity. Check here for reports on the racial and ethnic composition of U.S. schools, the progress of English-language learners, the changing face of religion, Hispanic online use, and demographic change in the work force. Pew is planning two big surveys this fall that are likely to shed new light on immigration issues and racial attitudes. a href=http://pewhispanic.org>pewhispanic.org

Public opinion researcher Sergio Bendixen offers a rich resource on immigrant views about topics including education to immigration policy. Bendixen conducts polls in multiple languages. a href=http://www.bendixenandassociates.com/studies.html>www.bendixenandassociates.com/studies.html

2. Race and the legacy of segregation.

The Center for Race, Inequality and Politics at Yale University’s Institute for Social and Policy Studies explores persistent structural inequalities in U.S. society. Cathy Cohen, assistant professor of African American studies and political science, and Rogers Smith, professor of political science, direct the center. a href=http://www.yale.edu/isps/programs/race.html>www.yale.edu/isps/programs/race.html

For an analysis of racial disparities in the child welfare system, see The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute background paper on the subject.

“Children of color are more likely to be removed from their parents and placed in out-of-home care. They also are more likely to remain in care for longer periods of time and are reunified with their families or adopted at lower rates than Caucasian children,” the report begins. It reviews historical policies, current practices and potential solutions.

Check disparities in incarceration by state with the help of the Prison Policy Initiative, which focuses on the social and political effects of mass incarceration. This is an advocacy group, but it collects some interesting data and a great list of links to research. One thought-provoking point it makes: The U.S. Census Bureau counts inmates as residents of the towns in which their prison is located. In most states, felons aren’t allowed to vote, but their population still figures into legislative and congressional redistricting decisions. a href=http://www.prisonpolicy.org/research.html#Civil_Rights>www.prisonpolicy.org/research.html#Civil_Rights

3. Opportunity and status by social group.

The Opportunity Agenda measures such things as home ownership, college enrollment, voting rights and wages across race, ethnicity and gender. www.opportunityagenda.org.

For a quick reference to statistics or to stimulate some story ideas, check Diversity Central. There you’ll find data on things such as family income and work hours by race, employment and income of people with disabilities, and survey responses on gay rights. The material is somewhat dated, but it will get you started. a href=http://www.diversitycentral.com/business/diversity_statistics.html#gl>www.diversitycentral.com/business/diversity_statistics.html#gl

Everything you wanted to know about gender and politics from an academic point of view can probably be found here: a href=http://www.psa.ac.uk/www/gender.asp>www.psa.ac.uk/www/gender.asp.

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