For many people, media outreach carries considerable anxiety. Preparation can be the key to being both comfortable and successful.
The first--perhaps most important--preparation is to determine a few short, simple messages.
If your institution is adopting a new degree requirement, you might develop simple messages that address the reason the requirement is being adopted, why it is needed, and how students will benefit.
If your institution has had a conflict involving racism or sexism, you might develop messages that highlight the institution's response, the benefits to learning that come with diversity, and the growth that can ultimately result from conflict.
When the Ford Foundation Campus Diversity Initiative released a poll on diversity
in higher education in Washington state, speakers used the following general
Next, try to consider the story from the viewpoint of a reporter. One good rule is to think about three types of questions: questions you expect to be asked, questions you hope to be asked, and questions you fear being asked. Then, practice short answers that reinforce your main messages.
Experience is the best teacher. Consult with experts at your institution's public information office or with colleagues who have had successful experiences with the media.
To receive the Washington poll, contact PR Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Newspapers: Forums for Diversity News
As colleges and universities have become more diverse, some student newspaper editors have been slow to include diverse voices and perspectives in their coverage. As a result, student newspapers occasionally become sources of tension. In some recent incidents, students have stolen, burned, and defaced student newspapers to protest the tone of the coverage or a lack of coverage of diversity issues.
In recent years, more student newspaper editors have worked to raise awareness of the many kinds of diversity on campus and to reflect the perspectives of diverse student bodies. One newspaper that has made a commitment to covering diversity is the University of Pennsylvania's Daily Pennsylvanian (DP).
"As the voice of the student body, it is our responsibility to reflect the diversity of Penn," said DP Summer Editor-in-Chief Shannon Burke. "We are concerned with all aspects of diversity. In addition to having a minority affairs reporter, we try to report on faculty, graduate students, students of diverse religions, and nontraditional students."
The DP works to ensure that diverse views are represented in its news coverage in several ways--by covering special events that celebrate cultural diversity on campus and events organized by student of color organizations and by including quotes from students of color in news stories on all topics.
The DP covers diversity in its daily columns as well--several students of color have regular columns. Recent columns covered the relationship between Penn and the surrounding community and affirmative action.
"The task of real learning is made easier by today's students who understand and insist on a multicultural world," said Seattle University's acting President John Eshelman at a press briefing releasing the results of a statewide poll gauging public attitudes toward diversity in higher education. The poll found that 64 percent of Washingtonians believe that society is growing apart and 65 percent think that diversity programs on college campuses help bring society back together. The poll was conducted by Elway Research for the Ford Foundation in conjunction with six Seattle area schools.
From: "State Supports Diverse Colleges, According to Poll," Northwest Asian Weekly, 3 May 1997
University of CaliforniaBerkeley
"The point of the conference is not to pile on more white guilt nor is it to celebrate whiteness. This is the process of trying to understand whiteness with the belief and hope that it might help us out of our current racial impasse (where) things seem to be so polarized and deadlocked." Matt Wray, co-organizer of the "Making and Unmaking of Whiteness" conference at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley, clarifying the goals of the event.
From: "Popular Forum Studying White Folks," San Francisco Chronicle, 12 April 1997
University of Michigan
"Students in Michigan...have been effectively petitioning, writing letters and meeting with administrators in pursuit of more ethnic-studies classes and minority instructors.... 'You are going to get a skewed picture if you don't include the views of people of color' in teaching U.S. history and culture, said Daryl Maeda, a U-M doctoral candidate who taught Asian-American studies last semester....Conservatives challenge the academic legitimacy of ethnic-studies programs...[and] question the appeal of ethnic studies to anyone other than minorities....But those clamoring to expand ethnic studies say that classes are generally packed with all kinds of students....At U-M, almost 1,500 students--about half of them white--take courses in black studies each semester."
From: "Minority Students Want More Minority Courses," Detroit Free Press, 4 March 1997
Association of American Universities
"We therefore reaffirm our commitment to diversity as a value that is central to the very concept of education in our institutions. And we strongly reaffirm our support for the continuation of admissions policies, consistent with the broad principles of equal opportunity and equal protection, that take many factors and characteristics into account--including ethnicity, race, and gender--in the selection of those individuals who will be students today, and leaders in the years to come." Text from a statement issued by the Association of American Universities and adopted by sixty-two leading North American research universities expressing strong support for continued attention to diversity in university admissions.
From: "On the Importance of Diversity in University Admissions," New York Times, 24 April 1997
"Let us take the common threads in the strong fibers of our diversity and weave a tapestry of talent, a community of scholars and citizens, that our state so richly deserves and the future so desperately demands." Kean College's new president, Ronald Applebaum, in his inaugural address. For the first time in the history of the college, students of color make up more than 50 percent of the freshman class.
From: "Kean College President Embraces Diversity of the Campus Community," Newark Star Ledger, 8 April 1997
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