‘There is a Business Case’ for Diversity in Media: Roberto Quiñones
Changing demographics need to be reflected in news organizations

The efforts happening in journalism to embrace diversity are not unique to the field and there are business reasons why the issue is pressing, says Roberto Quiñones.

Quiñones, executive director of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, says a variety of fields including government, foundations, non-profits and corporations are exploring diversity.

“If people don’t start addressing this now they will either be out of business or it will just happen around them and they are going to be the last ones to realize it,” Quiñones says.

  UNITY President David Steinberg, UNITY reporting fellow Melanie Balakit and UNITY Executive Director Roberto Quiñones pictured at the 2014 Asian American Journalists Association National Convention.

The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) aims to see the percentage of minorities in newsrooms nationwide reflecting the percentage in the nation’s population by 2025. Each year, ASNE releases a newsroom census that looks at the percentage of minority journalists employed in newsrooms. The 2014 census found at nearly 1,400 newspapers in the U.S. 13 percent of full-time daily newspaper journalists are racial and ethnic minorities.

“There is a business case here. We are beyond the, ‘Oh, this is the right thing to do and we should do this’ (stage),” Quiñones says.

One major reason to address diversity is the changing demographics in the country, he says. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minorities currently represent 37 percent of the U.S. population and that will increase to 42 percent by 2025.

Media companies need to connect with their audience. If they aren’t reflecting the demographics of their audience it is less likely people will want their product, he says.

In addition, media companies need to reflect the labor pool that is increasingly diverse, Quiñones notes.

Media acts as the “lens and voices of the country” and beyond, Quiñones says, and issues need to be seen through various lenses that are not always realized.

“It’s beyond the group think thing, it’s how many different points of view need to be taken into account to come up with a viable solution.”

Hopefully, these diversity conversations won’t be needed someday because it will be internalized as major demographic trends continue, Quiñones says.

“If everybody is making it part of everything they do then you shouldn’t need an advocate because people have gotten it,” he says. “The analogy is like the early quality advocates whose job was done once quality best practices were institutionalized.”

UNITY is looking to serve as a diversity partner for organizations in the media field, Quiñones says.

UNITY: Journalists for Diversity is an alliance of three journalism organizations: the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association.

UNITY advocates for fair and accurate news coverage about people of color and LGBT issues, and challenges news organizations to increase diversity in their workforce.

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