IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Diversity training for journalists emphasizes “complete picture” reporting
During a recent three-day visit to CU-Boulder’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC), Lillian Dunlap, an expert in diversity communication, advised student journalists and faculty members to strive for a “complete picture” in reporting.
Dunlap is on the affiliate faculty of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and is principal and chief executive officer of Communication Research Enterprises, Inc. She is a former broadcast journalist and former professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She is considered one of the nation’s leading trainers in diversity communication education.
In a Public Affairs Reporting class on Sept. 10, Dunlap began her presentation by telling students that ‘diversity’ is not an effective word. “The thing I don’t like about the word ‘diversity’ is it means everything and it means nothing,” said Dunlap. “Everybody has a very different definition, so as a term, it doesn’t quite work.”
Dunlap also spoke to Principles of Journalism and TV Production II classes, Newsteam Boulder and the CU Independent staff during her visit Sept. 9-11. She led discussions on the pitfalls of euphemisms and stereotypes in reporting and how to arrive at a “complete picture” using her three guidelines of inclusion, covering the uncovered, and mitigating bias and prejudice.
She also encouraged student journalists to go outside of their comfort zones and to observe people and environments they don’t typically explore. The exercise is commonly referred to as a “listening post” and is used to develop new ideas, create new sources, and provide broader perspectives for reporters.
Dunlap’s message carried over in a Sept. 11 workshop for faculty, at which she advised participants on teaching student journalists to cover the “complete picture” and to use precise language, especially when describing the subject of a story. “To be complete and thus excellent, journalists must get better at bringing the fullest possible range of people and issues before viewers, listeners, and readers,” she said in materials provided during her visit.
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