Who’s in the News?

For the final portion of my project, I hoped to analyze the levels of racial/ethnic diversity of people mentioned in news articles and look for a relationship between the newsroom diversity and the representativeness of their reporting. Regrettably, doing so isn’t a viable option for both procedural and substantive reasons. I quickly discovered that it’s very difficult to consistently discern the racial/ethnic identity of people in news articles with a reasonable level of confidence. The name and title usually given in an article are often insufficient. Prominent individuals can be researched further, but I had hoped to take a macro look at all mentions, especially “regular” people. Instead, I was only able to get a sense of the general penumbras of racial/ethnic representation in the media.

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Who’s Reporting the News?

In my first blog post, I shared some graphics illustrating the racial/ethnic composition of several major newspapers, some more diverse than others. What did you think looking at them? Did they seem diverse?

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Who’s Affected by the News?

In short, you. In long, everyone. The news media informs us about the world around us, but their role extends beyond the informative. The manner in which news is reported affects our perspective of it and shapes our worldview. Thus changing how we interact with our world.

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Abstract for an Analysis of Racial Diversity of Newspaper Staffs’ Effects on Reporting

The press is a ubiquitous but much maligned facet of American life. One of the most pressing problems it faces is its consistent inability to produce reporting that accurately represents minorities.[i] Given the distinct Whiteness of newspaper staffs and the perceived Whiteness of its reporting, many argue that diversified news staffs would make reporting more representative.[ii] Though intuitive, that solution is too simple. Newspapers are intricate organizations, and simply adding more racial or ethnic minorities is unlikely to solve the problem. My research will serve to increase our understanding of the workings of internal influences on newspaper outputs. Specifically, I am answering the extent to which the diversity of an American newspaper’s staff relative to the community it serves relates to the quantity (as a percentage of all local stories) and favorability (relative to all local stories) of local stories about racial and ethnic minorities in the area served.

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