Diversity matters: Community members reflect on representation within scholastic journalism

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For Scholastic Week 2021, Sunday’s theme is entitled “Diversity Matters,” and discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion within student-journalism.

By Vaughan Anoa'i and Andrea Ramirez

The US Journalism Education Association (JEA) hosts an annual week dedicated to scholastic journalism, where each day is a designated theme that highlights a given topic. For Scholastic Journalism Week 2021, this Sunday’s theme is entitled “Diversity Matters,” and is centered around the significance of diversity and representation within student journalism and the work that school publications produce. Amidst a global pandemic, student journalism has “provided a forum that encouraged voices” from diverse communities who have been marginalized, according to English teacher Brian Wogensen.

“Diversity in any leadership group is crucial to fostering differing opinions and viewpoints,” Wogensen said. “So with a student publication like the Oracle, it’s particularly important because you want publications and media to serve as a mirror to the community.”

Writing and discussing diversity within student journalism is something that cannot be “immediately fixed” after producing one piece, according to sophomore and former Oracle staff reporter Lizette Gonzalez.

“Writers [may] think, ‘Oh, I already wrote one piece about diversity, let’s stop there,’ and I think that’s not a correct mindset to go about things,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not something that you just talk about it once and then it’s all fixed.”

The topic of diversity is commonly associated with “discomfort” or “tension” according to Wogensen but he also notes this kind of tension can lead to “mutual understandings.”

I feel like diversity of voices and backgrounds, can lead to tension. And I actually think that’s a good thing,” Wogensen said. “As long as the tension is accepted through a lens of empathy and goodwill — it allows you to have a better perspective on what’s important.”

As a former staff reporter for the Oracle, Gonzalez recalls an article that she wrote surrounding diversity and inclusion at Archer for BIPOC students. Utilizing journalism as an outlet to express and convey her views on a topic like this had a “big impact” on her experience as a journalist at Archer, according to Gonzalez.

I remember the [article] I wrote last year about diversity at Archer and I feel like that had a big impact to hear different voices under one theme,” Gonzalez. “I definitely think in all areas it can be something that’s talked about and not overlooked.”

When covering diversity as a student journalist, maintaining a balance between the representation of sources and differing perspectives is “a challenge” according to former Oracle staff reporter and sophomore Cadence Callahan.

I think [diversity in journalism] is [about] just making sure everyone is heard so it doesn’t feel like one person is the representative for their community,” Callahan said. “You should say, ‘This is just my standpoint, this is just my opinion,’ but there are people that may differ from me. So just making sure that you don’t put someone as the speaker for their community.”

At Archer, the Oracle is a “multifaceted” publication according to Wogensen.

“Personally I feel like the Oracle has a really rich kind of history of different voices and talking about their experiences around diversity,” Wogensen said. “The ones that have hit home with me just as a reader, have been the personal ones, spoken from the I-perspective. Those have been really powerful to me.”