With this post I’m sharing something I wrote for our local newspaper in Savannah, GA.
In my career as an editor for newspapers for more than 40 years, I spent a lot of time working on issues of diversity and inclusion. This was important because the audiences we served — readers — were changing. Then we found we constantly had to redefine the word diversity, which took us way beyond race and gender to include considering the information needs of people who were different in so many ways — religion, age, political, geography, sexual orientation, language, culture and many more.
I was a leader in industry associations that created templates for training about diversity and inclusion. I led a major study and report on diversity for the National Association of Black Journalists; chaired the minorities (later renamed Diversity) Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. I did a lot of training in newsrooms, helping staffs enhance their ability to increase diversity in content and staffing. I traveled across the country giving speeches and introducing speakers for diversity training, and I visited quite a few newspapers to train staff members and readers on how to conduct diversity audits.
These days, instead of celebrating our differences, we find that some groups in our society spend a lot of time maligning people who are different. My column is a call for conversations about race, but the conversations can go way beyond race. We need communities to step up and create opportunities for conversations about our differences, with the hope of using what makes us different to bring us closer together.