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CIMA panel: Journalists need more training in diversity to overcome 'black and white' reporting

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CIMA panel: Journalists need more training in diversity to overcome 'black and white' reporting

Margaret Looney | June 12, 2015

In the fast-paced news cycle that can prize speed over accuracy, it’s not always the journalist’s top priority to diversify their sources when they’re trying not to get scooped.

“This is the problem of ‘fast journalism’ as opposed to ‘slow journalism’ - you just go for black and white, yes and no,” said the Media Diversity Institute’s Milica Pesic at a recent Center for International Media Assistance-MDI panel on freedom of expression in a multicultural world. “If you’re practicing good journalism, you’re supposed to be inclusive...to bring in people from different backgrounds.”

Dr. Verica Rupar of the Auckland University of Technology and Dr. Courtney Radsch of the Committee to Protect Journalists joined Pesic on the panel, with BBC News’ Razia Iqbal moderating.

Radsch echoed Pesic’s point, saying not only is it fast journalism, but also lazy journalism. Journalists get to choose their sources. Don’t just go after the big name, Radsch suggests, or the usual authoritative source. Include other sources that reflect the whole scope of the story.

“That’s a really critical responsibility of journalists not to just create this polarized, binary, black or white situation,” Radsch said.

“Journalism doesn't exist outside of the societies we live in," Pesic said. “There are different ways of managing diversity in different societies...Journalism should then reflect the kind of ways diversity is managed in each society.”

So how do we overcome polarized reporting? Rupar suggests a stronger focus on diversity in journalism education.

“It has to be a part of curriculum and it is part of the curriculum in different ways in different countries,” Rupar said. For example, as part of the Inclusive Journalism Institute, she’s running a course focusing on reporting in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Universities from New Zealand, Denmark and Finland exchange students, as they all study topics that teach journalists how to report from these countries.

“We said that it's the responsibility of journalists to bring diversity of voices into public domain and that’s true,” Rupar said. “But there are parts of society that can help with that.” She points to civil society organizations, suggesting that these local organizations send beat journalists source lists for certain topics, so reporters are prepared to find diverse sources even if they’re on a deadline.

Diversity can be included in journalism in the broader media ecosystem, by ensuring plurality of media organizations with varying business models, as well as incorporating citizen journalists’ voices, Radsch said.

You can watch the whole panel below, or catch a recap in this Storify.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via gullevek

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