Newsroom policy on fairness and diversity
No matter how many student-staffed, real-world newsrooms we’ve opened since 1908, the Missouri commitment to equitable, quality journalism has remained unwavering.
The Columbia Missourian, Global Journalist, KBIA-FM, KOMU-TV, Missouri Business Alert and Vox Magazine are dedicated to full and fair coverage of the news, whether international, national, regional or local. Our intent is to report the news without bias, without favor, without intimidation and without callous disregard for the impact of our reporting.
In keeping with those goals, the Missourian, Global Journalist, KBIA, KOMU, Missouri Business Alert and Vox recognize that, in a democratic society, all segments of the population should have the opportunity to be heard. It is our intention to provide a forum for the views of the oppressed as well as the favored, for minorities as well as the majority.
To do so, we shall:
- Avoid stereotyping in our news reports. Reporting that is racist or sexist in fact or in connotation will not be allowed. Reporting that demeans others – the elderly or the disabled, for example – will similarly be banned. Editors and reporters will be reminded of this policy frequently, and internal monitoring mechanisms will be implemented to ensure compliance with this directive.
- Report race, sex, religion or age only when pertinent. No mention should be made of a person’s race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or age unless it is germane to a story. If a suspect is arrested, it is not necessary to identify him or her by these characteristics. If the police issue a description of a suspect still at large, and the description is detailed enough that someone could make an identification from it, it may be appropriate to include racial or other identification.
- Aggressively cover news of and about minority groups. We recognize that the majority has little trouble disseminating its views and positions. Minorities may not be in a similar position. With that in mind, we are committed to covering minorities as fully and extensively as our resources allow. This will include active efforts to develop a variety of new sources among minorities.
- Monitor and evaluate coverage of minorities on a regular basis.
- We recognize that to do these things well we must first create an atmosphere in our own newsrooms in which a variety of views, including divergent ones, is encouraged.
- We shall do so within the context of our significant public service roles, which demand clear and concise communication.
Toward that end, we shall:
- Regularly and systematically solicit the opinion of those staff members who are minorities. We are fortunate to have reporters and editors of different sexes, sexual orientation, races, religions, age and political beliefs. We encourage discussion of differing views of and approaches to the coverage of news.
- Encourage non-American staff, faculty and students to share with us their views of the American media and the media systems in their own nations. The Missourian, Global Journalist, KBIA, KOMU, Missouri Business Alert and Vox are fortunate to have journalists who are born in other countries and may have perspectives different from those of Americans. We are committed to an exchange of ideas and cultural heritage that will be mutually beneficial. It is our intention to make international students feel comfortable and welcome in our midst.
- Eliminate nationalistic, racist, sexist and other demeaning remarks in our newsrooms. We recognize that ethnic, sexist and other insensitive remarks can be damaging to the environment in which we work. We are committed to eradicating all such remarks, whether said in seriousness or jest, from the work place.
- Attempt to fill staff and media assistant positions with qualified women and minorities. We recognize the importance of the perspective such applicants can offer if hired in positions of responsibility in our newsrooms.
- Avoid assigning minority students only to stories about minority issues.
- Attempt to provide all students with realistic professional experiences within the capabilities of our media operations. In the broadcast newsrooms, we recognize that the news directors are responsible for the sound of air work during local newscasts.
- We realize that not every student working in broadcast outlets will necessarily appear on air. But we pledge to make sure that each student is given ample opportunity to audition for on-air work. Periodic airchecks will continue throughout the student’s time in the newsroom. Criteria for air work will include clarity of diction; enunciation and elocution; well-modulated pitch and tone; lack of lisp, hiss, stutter, thickly accented speech or distracting mannerisms; correct inflection; and interpretation of delivery. The news director will provide ample opportunity for auditions and air checks. At all newsrooms we will offer help to international students as they overcome problems of language and culture.