JOC Scenarios and Responses

Scenario-response feedback

Thanks for sharing your stories with us. The deck of cards will include these scenarios plus potential responses. You can test some of them here and give us your feedback. Toggle through tabs to respond.

A top editor convenes a meeting to launch a project on gentrification that is erasing a neighborhood of people of color. No people of color are invited to that meeting.

Why this is a problem?
When discussing issues that have a different impact on communities of colour than on white communities, it’s important to include as many perspectives as possible with particular emphasis on including the voices of people of colour from the start. Including journalists of colour from the beginning/planning stages, ensures/helps to frame the reporting more comprehensively, accurately.

“It is unacceptable to not include reporters of color because…we risk missing important parts of the story.”

Ask: “Do you not see the importance of having journalists of color in the room?”

Ask: “It looks like you’re intentionally excluding journalists of color….I’m sure you don’t want it to look like that.”

Ask: “Do you think journalists of color may bring a different perspective to a conversation on gentrification?”

“Lack of diversity doesn’t represent the communities we write about but we’re no worse than any other newsroom in the country. In fact, we’re doing better than some.”

Why this is a problem: It’s not ok that the newsroom does not represent the communities and people it writes about. Why are you setting the bar really low, why not be a leader when it comes to diversity and inclusivity – shouldn’t we be striving for excellence? Why assume you are doing enough (when you are not)?
It’s true diversity is lacking in most newsrooms, in fact it’s getting worse over time (e.g. fewer women covering sports…). Do we want to be a part of that trend?

Shouldn’t we be aiming higher? Shouldn’t we be aiming to do better than our competitors?

Thank you for acknowledging the Why are we setting the bar so low?

We’re no worse – but we’re no better if we don’t try.

Our coverage suffers because our newsroom doesn’t represent the communities we cover. OR frame it as a question: Do you think our coverage is affected because….

Shouldn’t we take it initiative?

Shouldn’t we be setting an example in the industry?

Look at x and x – they are doing x and x. (EXAMPLES: City Bureau in Chicago.)

“This story (an invited oped about race) made a white reporter uncomfortable so we deleted the story from the website OR: edited the story…”

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer

Why this is a problem:
Black and brown people’s voices have been erased for centuries by white people. Conversations about race and equity should be led by people of colour. White people can be uncomfortable talking about race – but it’s not your job to make them comfortable. Deleting/heavily editing stories about race bends the narrative to accommodate white people and is not acceptable.

Why was this deleted/heavily edited? Do we have a protocol for this sort of thing?

Can we write a story about why the story was deleted?

Shouldn’t we be leading the conversation about race?

The news org is accountable for errors and for making public corrections, we should do the same for stories that are deleted.

Your discomfort does not trump the writer’s experience.

Can you justify your decision to delete/heavily edit the story to the reporters of color in the newsroom?

“The newsroom is good at hiring people of color but not good at retaining them.”

Why this is a problem: this speaks to newsroom culture. The newsroom is not a healthy place for people of colour to work and thrive. The culture was not designed with people of colour in mind.

Build community with other journalists of color in the newsroom – if there are any – and share ideas about how to cope within the newsroom environment/culture. Find ways to support each other.

On a personal level – consider career coaching to help plan an exit strategy if the newsroom environment feels too toxic.

Make a request to management for a coach – in case there is a budget for this.

Consider FUCK U! bank account where you…

Point out the trend to leadership. Ask who’s in the room when hiring and firing decisions are made.

Call for an audit.

NYT copy editing example: when CEs were being cut, CEs gathered and protested in the newsroom and outside causing leadership to respond.

“When will we hire more journalists of color?”
Editor response:“There’s a hiring freeze so we have to wait for more people to die.”

Why this is a problem: This is offensive because it shows the current situation is acceptable and that there is no commitment to creating an equitable, inclusive workplace. By not accurately covering communities of color, you’re not doing your job. To serve your community you need to reflect your community.

This is downright offensive – if you feel able to, call it out!

People should not have to DIE in order for the newsroom to become more diverse and inclusive.

We’re not doing our job properly unless we have reporters from a range of backgrounds.

When is it ok – ever – to wait for people to die before acting!