In the UK, we are increasingly hearing calls for newsrooms to reckon with their own institutional racism. From mixing up pictures of black people to scapegoating marginalised groups, when newsrooms are dominated by white, privileged staff, editorial decisions around reporting on these groups can go very wrong.
The situation is not unique to the UK. In the US, where there is a complex and nuanced history of black, Latino, Asian and other underrepresented groups, newsrooms that are mostly made of white journalists have often done a disservice to those communities, from poor headline choices to fuelling stereotypes with characterisations.
Last year, one US newsroom set out on a mission to recognise its past failings and right its wrongs. The LA Times launched its reckoning with our racism initiative, which was a self-examination of its past coverage on marginalised groups from the owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, a public apology for where it went wrong and a pledge to do better in the future.
In this week's podcast, we speak to Sewell Chan, editorial page editor at LA Times, who was one of the core editors on the project. He reflects on the reporters of colour - both past and present - who opened up on their own experiences with industrial discrimination. This includes losing bylines when white reporters rewrote their copy after doing all the hard work but also seeing changing attitudes growing from within.
The project was "overwhelmingly positive" according to Chan, though not without criticism. Many readers have written in to praise the organisation for the courage and integrity on display and some have even renewed their expired subscriptions because of it.
Free daily newsletter
- Predictions for digital journalism: audience, diversity and newsroom leadership in 2022
- The NCTJ's Journalism Diversity Fund hits £500k fundraising target
- #HeForShe: the role of male allies for women journalists
- Young black journalist launches an investigative journalism publication for Gen Z
- Eleanor Mills: 'Newspapers will become irrelevant if they do not cater to all parts of society'