Recap of great points about diversity and inclusion from Faiza Mahamud at College Media Mega Workshop

Technical issues kept me from live tweeting today’s excellent Mega Workshop session with Faiza Mahamud of the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. So here are some takeaways based on good old paper-and-pen notes:

ARE YOU REALLY WELCOMING, OR DO YOU SAY STUFF LIKE THIS?

Mahamud is the first Somali-born reporter at a major mainstream American newspaper. As she met white colleagues, many questions made her cringe, but especially this one: “How do you stay objective when your own community?”

Let’s face it. It’s easy for those of us from privileged majority backgrounds to think that there must be some ethical issues with a hijab-wearing reporter covering immigrant communities. Meanwhile, we cover white people with kids in the same schools we send our kids, and no one ever sees a problem. So I cringed partially because Mahamud had to endure that and partially because I know I could be equally clueless if I failed to question my own assumptions.

ARE YOU REALLY TRYING TO COVER THOSE ‘OTHER’ COMMUNITIES?

One of many excellent questions from students was about how to establish credibility in communities where journalists may be greeted with skepticism. Mahamud replied that you can’t only show up when you need a story. “You have to go to that community when you’re not on deadline.”

A related point: She advises contacting student organizations and letting know how to get stories in the paper. I would take that a step further: Create simple processes to get their “routine” stories published. (I’m promoting use of an online form, I’ll let you know if that catches on.) This means editors can’t turn up their noses at briefs columns, meeting listings, photos of club members doing stuff. This is the life of your community, after all. It’s not all fires and police chases (thank goodness).

Mahamud also said, “Challenge yourself to cover something you’ve never covered before.”

HOW CAN YOU RECRUIT AND RETAIN MORE PEOPLE OF COLOR FOR YOUR STAFF?

When recruiting, “tell people what you like about journalism,” Mahamud advised. Bring them to the newsroom.

When people of color join staff, make sure they are mentored (we want that for all staff, right?). Make sure they have access to the networks other students will use to get jobs and internships.

This really only scratches the surface of her time with us. You might want to follow her on Twitter: @faiza_mahamud.

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About adviserdavid

Student media director, Georgia Southern University

Posted on July 12, 2018, in Diversity/inclusion/equity, Leadership, What to cover. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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