Letter from the editor: Telling diverse stories makes news better

By Bethany Kyle—

Editor-in-Chief

I am not the picture of diversity.

I am white, middle class, and Christian from a small southern town. If anything, I thought I should be more of the person who should only listen and nod during diversity discussions instead of being an active voice.

However, at a session called “Who Delivers the Message is as Important as the Message” at Excellence in Journalism 2015, the Society of Professionalism’s national conference, I began to see just how wrong I was.

In the end, it’s up to me to improve how I tell stories. This starts with improving how I see the news happening around me. Paul Cheung, director of interactive and digital news production at the Associated Press, stressed the idea that it is on each of us to do our part to create and encourage diverse news stories.  editorcolumnphoto_CMYK

Cheung explained, “We need to challenge our own implicit bias.” If I’m not doing my part by fixing my own (I’m willing to admit that it is there), then I am part of the problem.

Creating a more open mind will lead to more diverse story telling, which is absolutely vital. At the session, Alison Overholt, editor-in-chief of espnW, made the point very clear, “It’s not like the news only happens to one segment of people.”

If the stories we tell in the media are just the ones that interest or affect ourselves, we are missing countless important stories that affect a wide range of people.

When we hear the word diversity, many of us will automatically think of race, but it is a lot more than that too. Diversity is also income, age, gender, religion; it is anything that makes you different from the person next to you. When telling the news and deciding what stories are important, that’s important to remember.

And it’s not always just looking for the diverse story in the world, it’s about the decisions behind how to tell every story.

“How do you diversify the voices within your story?” Cheung explained. Because every story is an opportunity to have diverse voices being heard.

So what were there suggestions for a solution? It’s fairly simple: assemble a team who believes in the importance of diverse news, allow people into the conversation who will challenge how you see the story, and collaborate.

But most importantly, start with challenging you.

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