I don't have the words to capture the spirit of the American Society of Newspaper Editors' Diversity Leadership Institute. Instead, I'll turn to a past speech by editor Gregory Favre.
I was honored to attend the fifth session this week at the Washington Post in Washington, D.C. My challenge is to take what I've learned and share the experience with the Advocate staff. What I know I won't do is tell them we need diversity for diversity's sake.
Rather, we need to keep focusing on the journalism. Good journalism is about covering the entire community, about giving voice to the voiceless, about the eternal search for truth. We don't do any of this if we reflect only the lives and views of the majority.
This quest also is a business imperative. As our community grows and diversifies, we can either change with it or we can die. One of many story ideas the conference generated for me is to look at when Victoria becomes a majority-minority community. How does crossing this threshhold change the economic and social fabric of the community?
Trainers Tom Kochman and Jean Mavrelis guided us through a basic understanding of multicultural sensitivities. For example, they explained that Latinos have a more traditional cultural style, meaning it is more hierarchical, collectivistic and interpersonal. Meanwhile, the U.S. mainstream culture is egalitarian, individualistic and institutional.
In a collectivistic view, the group comes first. Most Latinos (and many Anglos) are Catholic, which promotes a world view of accepting the way things are. The mainstream U.S. culture, though, is to change the way things are.
One way is not right or wrong. You just need to understand and adjust for the differences. One size doesn't fit all.
We all wear blinders. I know my circle of friends, my neighborhood, my family. If the Advocate reflects only my interests, it may be of some interest to other Anglos like me. But why should I expect it will be of interest to blacks, Latinos and others whose experiences are entirely different?
Newspapers have long reflected the interests of the Rotary Club and Country Club set. There's nothing sinister in that. The publishers and editors have been comfortable with this crowd.
But comfort in this context can be dangerous. A newspaper is a public trust. It shouldn't be just a mouthpiece for the elite. It should promote a community conversation. If you see your friends, your family, your interests reflected in the Advocate, then it will remain essential to your life.
I don't consider this a radical PC concept. It's just good journalism.
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