The Promise and Power of Diversity: Cronkite Must-See-Monday Event

By Lindsey Clinkingbeard

March 2017

The Cronkite School’s latest Must-See-Monday explored the context of diversity in our schools and throughout our everyday culture.

Moderated by Jennifer Greer, the panel includes Associate Professor Sharon Bramlett-Solomon, Cronkite News Executive Editor Christina Leonard, and the Director of Cronkite News Borderlands, Vanessa Ruiz.

Greer opened the discussion by asking how each panelist defined the word ‘diversity’ and how they believed it to apply in journalism.

“Diversity is a reflection of who we are as a society. When we think about diversity it should embrace the image of this nation,” Solomon said. “The press should reflect all constituent groups in society,” she added.

Solomon described the importance of not only having young students visit the school, but for them to see a faculty who represent them. Solomon noted that especially when students are applying for college, they will likely decide to attend a school that is inclusive.

“Diversity is reflecting all levels of society, especially those underserved,” Leonard responded.

Leonard described that diversity is ingrained in what we do as journalists. She encouraged those to speak up to their leaders should they see or hear anything that makes them uncomfortable.

“The fact that you still have to fight, that’s why diversity matters. We don’t live in a perfect world. We need champions who will do the right thing,” Leonard said.

Ruiz spoke about the importance of having a diverse newsroom staff and embracing other people’s different backgrounds or cultures.

“You need people who will come to the table with different perspectives. If you don’t have that, your [media] coverage will be limited,” Ruiz said. “Diversity is who we are, plain and simple,” she said.

Ruiz described how we need to have these kinds of conversations with students so that no one feels “less than.” Ruiz added that she saw a personal commitment to diversity here at the Cronkite School, which was an important personal factor for her.

“Diversity matters because we are not all created equal. We come from different backgrounds, heritage, communities… to give it [all] a place to sit at the table is important.”



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