This year-long project taught me about the research process, including: reading and writing for research, consolidating information, presenting findings, problem solving and collaboration.
The goal of this research project was to track the diversity in the college newsroom. To measure the diversity, we also had to take into consideration the diversity of the college to see how well the population was reflected in the newsroom.
Throughout the research process, we found that there was much more research conducted on diversity in the professional newsroom and that many journalists start their career in college. We found that those who had leadership positions in college, moved on to the professional field. This was an important finding because if the leadership is not diverse, then the entire industry would be less diverse.
These findings, and others, were presented at the College Media Association convention in NYC. The survey findings were not analyzed yet, as there were problems distributing them on time. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, we presented our predicted findings and welcomed advice on our project. We received feedback that can be implemented on how to improve our research.
I met with my faculty member weekly and we split up the responsibilities to complete the project timely and efficiently.
At this point in the process, my advisor and I are preparing to present at the College Media Association Convention in Manhattan on March 13.
Our travel funds might be taken due to the corona virus outbreak and we are waiting for more information regarding that. If we do get to attend the conference, we will discuss our process up until now and our predicted outcomes.
Thus far, we compiled a list of the largest universities in the U.S. and created a survey to send to the editor-in-chief of each school. I made the list on google sheets with information including: the name of the school, the student newspaper name, a link to the paper, the editor-in-chief name and their email address. My advisor created the survey based on questions we discussed earlier in the semester.
We faced a problem and were not able to send out the survey’s yet. My advisor is working on this on her end and I am attending the research seminars in preparation for the written portion of our literature review. I learned a lot through the seminars, including how to write for research and annotation.
The diversity in the newsroom project is currently in the research stage of the project. In one of the earlier meetings I had with my faculty mentor, Dr. Kate Fink, we acknowledged that it is important to see what data is already out there on our subject. Diversity in the newsroom is not a new idea, but not much has been done about it yet. We decided to search for any policies regarding diversity that college newsrooms may already have.
Dr. Fink requested a PDF file of the Editor & Publisher 97th annual newspaper databook: the encyclopedia of the newspaper industry. We plan to base our survey off of the information found in this document. From this, we will create a sample survey and test it at a select few colleges and universities. Those results will give us feedback that we will need to tweak the survey before we send out the finalized version.
Those people working in news organizations should reflect the community they are reporting on and to. The best way to do so is to make sure that the diversity in the newsroom mimics that of the surrounding community. Through the research conducted throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, Professor Fink and I will be looking to answer certain questions including the following:
- How well do college newsrooms around the nation represent their campuses?
- Is the college newsroom staff balanced in the way of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation?
- Do college/universities have a policy in place for diversity?
These are just a few questions that will be explored throughout the year. We plan on creating surveys and sending them out to select colleges throughout the nation. Currently, we are discussing a way to narrow down our research. Instead of reaching out to every college and university in the country, we want to narrow our focus to get more accurate results.
First and foremost, this research will help us understand how well college newsrooms represent their community. The demographics of the newsroom may give us insight to what they are reporting on and what topics they might be missing. Our findings will also show us how college newsrooms relate and compare to newsrooms in corporate America.