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Interviewing the Interviewers: Journalistic Norms and Racial Diversity in the Newsroom

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Many mainstream newspapers have diversified their organizations—at least to some extent—by hiring minority journalists. Some scholars argue that a diversified newsroom will improve media coverage of minority communities and issues; others think that the power of journalistic norms will constrain minority journalists so that they will be unable or unwilling to enhance the news coverage of minorities. In this article, the authors examine journalistic norms and racial diversity in mainstream newsrooms by conducting face-to-face interviews with African American and Latino journalists working at mainstream papers. They investigate journalists' perceptions of how norms influence their behavior and their attitudes about advocacy. They also examine their perceptions of audience characteristics and how they choose sources, and conclude that journalistic norms do shape the behavior of African American and Latino journalists; nevertheless, many of these journalists are still able to bring a unique perspective to the table.

Keywords: advocacy; balance; diversity; journalistic norms; minority journalists; newsroom

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, USA 2: Department of Political Science, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, USA 3: Department of Political Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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