Introduction to Diversity in Media:

Media professionals should be aware of the power advertising and news coverage holds over the public opinions. Arguments have been made that newsrooms and ad agencies should reflect the diverse public they serve in order to fully cover all stories from an unbiased point of view. Issues in diversity can include race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and religious or cultural practices.

Case Study 1

Thomas Page McBee called Vanity Fair’s Transgender issue into question because the editorial staff did not include a single transgender writer or editor. McBee argues that without transgender staff members Vanity Fair can not accurately report issues important to the community because the editors are writers will not know where to look for stories or who to interview.

Case Study 2

Today reports on the backlash for the Cheerios ad featuring a mixed-race couple. The comments section under the YouTube video of the ad had to be disabled because of racial slurs and what the company called “un-family-friendly” language. The story highlights General Mills stance on the use of their Cheerios ad and what other advertisers say they think about using interracial couples in their television spots or online.

Possible Classroom Activities:

Graphite offers a list of tools for teaching and learning about diversity, including links to apps like Who Am I? Race Awareness Game. MediaSmarts, the Canadian Center for Digital and Media Literacy, also provides lesson plans, including activities like classroom debates and guided group readings. Panels and special guest lectures with personal experiences to share with students is also a good idea, or sending students home with an assignment that requires they watch several shows, news and entertainment, and document the kinds of people and representations they see.

Media Smarts

MediaSmarts offers several resources about media diversity.

Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center outlines five facts about newsroom diversity.

The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has a list of frequently asked questions about diversity.

Women’s Media Center

The Women’s Media Center studies the number of women working in media from entertainment to journalism.