Increasingly, newspapers are emphasizing the need for reporters on all beats to diversify their sources to include a broad spectrum od perspectives in a community.

In this segment, we’ll examine how any story should include sources from a variety of backgrounds and cultural groups.


Read the story by Kevin Aldridge on the use of the n-word by blacks and whites in Cincinnati and the different connotations the work carries depending on who is using it. There is no breaking news in this story but it grabs a reader’s attention because it is a commentary on our contemporary society. It holds a mirror up to the way we live and allows us to talk about something that is happening but may not have a name.

Also read the sidebar that Aldridge wrote to accompany the n-word story. Write a story pitch focusing on a diversity issue that includes a main story and sidebar to go with it.

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The story on the n-word is uniquely suited for the diversity beat. Break into small groups and brainstorm five story topics that are distinctly topics for the diversity reporter on a newspaper’s staff as opposed to a general topic that should naturally include voices from diverse sources.

His job makes Aldridge particularly sensitive to other cultures, to labels, and to stereotyping. Conduct an interview with a member of a different ethnic or racial group. Discuss with them the labels and stereotypes often associated with their cultural group. Ask them about their own personal experiences with labels and stereotypes and prejudice.

Write a short article about that person and their views on labels and stereotypes.

Read Aldridge’s story on Africans in the suburbs and answer the following questions.

  1. What was the impetus for Aldridge’s story?
  2. List the sources he uses in the story.
  3. State why the variety of people he talks to for the story is important.
  4. Are there other events or changes that could have served as the time peg for the story?
  5. Play the video clip of Aldridge discussing when to name s source’s race or ethnicity.
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Aldridge’s suburb story is driven by statistics. Read the story and note how and where statistics are used. Aldridge also broadens his nut graph to include a national statistic. One in four suburban residents in America today is a minority, according tot the U.S. Census.

Access the U.S.Census at Pick a community in your area and analyze the demographics by race. Write a short story based purely on the statistics you gather from the Census and other reputable sites.

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Play the clip featuring Denise Smith Amos, who writes a general interest column for the metropolitan section of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Amos talks about the importance of diversifying sources as she works to cover all special interest groups in the metro area.

Play the cideo clip of Oscar Avila who covers immigration issues for the Chicago Tribune. In small groups, discuss the following.

  1. Avila echoes Denise Smith Amos’ comment that there is not one person who speaks for an entire group of people. Think about how different you are from others of similar gender, profession, race, ethnicity, age, etc. Could you represent the various interests of all the people in that group?
  2. Avila also discusses the importance of getting out of your “comfort zone” to find fresh voices and new perspectives on issues. Make a mental list of people you would find difficult to talk to because they are unlike you, talk with a classmate about ways to break down the barriers with such stories.
  3. Discuss places you could go as a reporter to find such sources in your community.