Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Lesson in Diversity Reporting

The Washington Post is currently running a series called "Being a black man" that explores life for black men in America. The multimedia project focuses on specific men while also examining issues like incarceration and finding a job.

Is this the way to do “diversity?”

Bill Cosby has criticized the series for painting too rosy of a picture, and others have asked why there isn’t a similar project focused on white males or other racial groups. But many more (at least based on the feedback posted online) have embraced the series and thanked the newspaper for putting in-depth positive coverage of black males on the front page.

Given that the media often cast black men in a negative light, I think the Post should be applauded for its effort. I appreciate that the paper didn’t do just one article and interviewed people on the street as well as big names like Michael Eric Dyson. I agree with those who say this kind of coverage shouldn’t be limited to black men, thought it makes sense to start there given that Washington D.C. has a large African-American population and black men have been the subject of many studies and reports.

But there is the question of whether you further marginalize a minority group by pulling out their experience and examining it in this way.

I also wonder if television, which bears a large share of the blame for the negative images of black men, could do something like this. Sadly, I don’t think so. A two or three minute package couldn’t do justice to the complex experience of life for any group of people.

Still, I think the project shows the value of in-depth reporting. I just hope profit constraints and job cuts don't take away the resources for other papers to spend the time to develop a series like this.

To view the series click here



At Sunday, November 26, 2006, Anonymous EG said...

This definitely looks like an interesting and well-put together reporting project, and on one hand, I think it's great. On the other hand, however, it seems a bit wrong to classify life for any group of people with the stories of a few. I'd definitely feel uncomfortable reading a story that supposedly explained my life and had nothing to do with reality.

I guess I need to read more of it and decide...

At Monday, November 27, 2006, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...


I've been following this series and I enjoy it. Black men are diverse and come from varying social and economic backgrounds and I think the series highlights that. I don't beleive the series is 'classfying' the lives of black men, but I can see how one would think that. I look at it as more or less doing a 'day in the life' type of thing. A lot of their stories, of triumph and struggle and just the sheer depth of their personalities and lifestyles aren't really portrayed by the media.


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