From ACP: Reporting on Race, Community and Identity


Because UTA is a diverse campus of people with many races, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds, I wanted to get a better understanding of how to cover these topics in our community.

Some of it was repeated information, but some of the tips were very interesting. The main thing I got out of the session on “Reporting on Race, Community and Identity” with Angie Chuang from American University was that diversity in your newsrooms and stories depends on your sourcing and who’s reporting.

Some things to remember when reporting:

  • Does sourcing reflect your community?
    • If the only time people with different identities appear in your news is during special times, you don’t have enough diversity in your sources.
  • Did you interview them: Because of…..their identity? Along with……?? What about everyday diversity……?

“The diversity of sourcing depends on the diversity in the newsroom.”

There are 5 key things to keep in mind when covering racially sensitive topics.

  1. Voice – Don’t just go to people who will give you a quote and move on to the next source. You shouldn’t be satisfied with just a quote from a source you probably talk to for most of your stories. Instead, really find the right people to talk through the issues. For example, The Shorthorn talks to Allan Saxe a bunch because he will talk to us and gives good quotes, but we should work to remember that there are other political science professors that can give us opinons on things.
  2. Authenticity – Go to people with humility to achieve authentic reporting.
  3. Context – Explain the larger perspective in your stories. Quotes on quotes do no good when there’s nothing to explain why you’re writing. Collect data, use the data to explain things and to work as transitions. Numbers are good when comparing. “When you have the data behind you, the people who hate have a harder time arguing against you.”
  4. Complexity – It’s okay to be involved in many campus activities, but wear your different hats appropriately. Let the groups you’re involved in know when you’re wearing your reporter hat and when you’re wearing your member hat. This is important to keep relationships. But just because you are in an organization doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t cover it — everyone should cover race issues.
  5. Identification – If you identify one person, identify everyone. If you are identifying people’s races, ages, etc., it should be relevant to the story.


This entry was posted in Training by Anna Gutierrez. Bookmark the permalink.

About Anna Gutierrez

After graduating in 2017 from the University of Texas at Arlington, I moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to work for the Society of Professional Journalists. I believe in the First Amendment and the importance of passionate storytelling and digital strategy. I love my dog, Lilly, planners, pineapples and all things Texas.

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