Originally Posted: The Ailes Apprentice Program
By Guest Author, Evan Cornog, Dean of The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University
If you want to understand why diversity remains an issue for news organizations, you might start by examining how newsrooms looked a generation or two ago across the United States.
Mainstream news organizations were, well into the 1960s, overwhelmingly the domain of white men, and although those men were usually dedicated to their profession and eager to present an objective picture of the world around them, the limits of their own life experiences—and the almost locker-room atmosphere of those long-ago newsrooms—shaped news coverage, according to the Poynter Institute For Media Studies.
At a time when most of the positions of power in the nation were also occupied by white men, the lack of diversity in newsrooms meant less coverage of issues of lesser interest to that audience, writes Dr. Edward Pease, who heads up the journalism department at Utah State University.
A striking example of this lack of coverage was highlighted in an editor’s note in the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader on July 4, 2004.
“It has come to the editor’s attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil-rights movement. We regret the omission.”
According to the Herald-Leader article, that note was triggered by a request from a local historical society for photos of the civil-rights protests in Lexington shot decades earlier by the paper’s photographers. The paper found it had no such pictures, because it had failed to cover the movement. The reason: papers back in the 1950s and 1960s “catered to the white citizenry, and the white community just prayed that rumors and reports would be swept under the rug and just go away,” a local NAACP leader said.
Those of us who are educating the next generation of journalists take seriously our duty to make sure that we graduate students who will help increase the diversity of newsrooms across the country. We work hard, with our colleagues here at Hofstra, to attract the best candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds, and to provide the sort of financial aid that will enable them to attend. And our faculty and administration also work hard with media organizations in and around New York City to secure the most demanding and rewarding internship experiences for them.
Having partners like the Ailes Apprentice Program greatly enriches what we can offer to our students, and helps keep open the lines of communication between the university and the businesses and organizations that will employ our graduates. That way we can be confident that in the future, no big stories will be just “swept under the rug.”
Evan W. Cornog, PhD, is Dean of The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, where students are producing award-winning work and kick-starting their careers as future communications industry leaders. The Fox News Channel University/Ailes Rising Apprentice Scholarship was established at Hofstra in 2011. Scholarship recipients include Luz Peña ’12, who is now reporting for MundoFOX in Los Angeles, and Claudia Balthazar ’14, who is currently participating in the Carnegie-Knight News21 fellowship program and was recently named Student Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Additional information about The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication can be found at www.hofstra.edu/soc.