Continuing the diversity cycle

The Daily is on the right track this year. Help us and help yourselves. Attend a forum.

Britt Johnsen

After a long history of cultural insensitivity and a cycle of negativity, The Minnesota Daily is on the right track with diversity. Now the challenge is to stay on that path.

In the past, the Daily ” along with other newspapers ” has been regarded by many as a “white gentleman’s paper.” For the past year, and with increased efforts this year, the Daily is doing the right things with diversity. Efforts include training, recruiting, creating relationships with the community. We must build off of those things. When it comes to diversity, it’s a cycle. Imagine the following scenario: Some groups assume the paper doesn’t care or wouldn’t get it right. Some story ideas then stay out of the paper. But when newspapers ignore certain groups or topics, the less reflective our paper is of the community.

The Daily is on a different cycle; one that is positive and fruitful. It’s not that the Daily hasn’t made mistakes in the past year, but the difference is we’re willing to figure out why we made them and how we can improve. In this new cycle, we have taken on some significant tasks. We have set out to train our staff and expand our coverage. We are building relationships with community members, educating the public about the Daily while understanding many different groups and communities. These are real-world lessons to learn: how to deal with issues of understanding differences. What we learn here will help us elsewhere.

And from the Daily’s standpoint, if readers can voice their opinions, if we can understand all our roles, if the Daily can accurately reflect the community and hear a diverse array of voices ” we can have a serious impact. One key impact this semester has been the effect of the multicultural council. The council is an advisory board of students representing many communities and student groups that wish to have a say in the diversity of the Daily’s coverage. From the last meeting, we made connections with groups, which is very important because it keeps the ideas and communication flowing. Other ideas included general advice for reporters, complaints about a few stories, how to improve the format of the council and training workshops the Daily could have.

But we are willing to sustain a relationship with the community and further training efforts. We are willing to understand one another. We need to be critical thinkers and problem solvers ” together. And that means you have to continue to voice your opinions and concerns. We’ve started something groundbreaking and exciting this year. Let’s stay on that path. To do that, we need you at our multicultural council and at our public forums, and to give us general feedback. Maybe that means a quick e-mail or phone call. Or maybe that means a letter to the editor.

We’re on the right track. We just have to stay on it. The next public forum is 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 325 Coffman Union. The next multicultural council meeting is Noon to 2 p.m. Friday, 100 Murphy Hall.

Britt Johnsen is the editor in chief of The Minnesota Daily. Please send comments to [email protected]