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Winter 01
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Columns: New Book Examines Diversity and the MediaPoynter Institute Web Site Features Diversity
News clips from: WashingtonIowaMichiganPennsylvaniaVirginia

Making Diversity News

New Book Examines Diversity and the Media

Diversity education has long been underway through the mass media, according to Carlos E. Cortés, professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Riverside. In his new book, The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach About Diversity, Cortés asserts that "[w]ell before school educators ever began talking about multicultural education, the mass media were multicultural education." In teaching about diversity, schools must compete with the powerful influence of the mass media. The media frame cultural themes and transmit values. In so doing, they influence how we think about gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and other diversity issues. While this influence can be either positive or negative, it is seldom neutral. Through careful content analysis of both entertainment and news media, Cortés demonstrates that the media can be either enemies or allies in the process of diversity education. The Children Are Watching explores the implications of media influence and urges that educators acknowledge and engage "the inevitable media multicultural curriculum." The book is available from the Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027; 800-575-6566.

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Poynter Institute Web Site Features Diversity

The Poynter Institute, a school for both prospective and practicing journalists, has established Poynter.org to make its teaching, expertise, and research easily accessible. Central to the Institute's mission of promoting "a journalism that informs citizens and enlightens public discourse" is a "recognition of the value of diversity in the newsroom and in life." Accordingly, the web site (www.poynter.org) includes a valuable resource called "Diversity Update," a dynamic clearinghouse for sharing ideas and information about diversity reporting. The "Diversity Update" site focuses on five under-covered issues: Race/Ethnicity, Religion/Faith, Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Race Relations. The site includes a story archive supplemented by analysis from Poynter faculty and by sourcing, writing, and contact guidance. Another useful feature is the "Resource Files" section which allows one to access articles and source materials on diversity topics. Also included is a bibliography with links to online diversity resources.

The Poynter Institute was founded in 1975 by Nelson Poynter, former publisher of the St. Petersburg Times and founder of Congressional Quarterly. Poynter began the Institute to promote journalistic excellence, editorial integrity, and independent ownership--values that continue to inform the mission of the Poynter Institute. Among the Institute's goals is to highlight "the way news organizations handle matters of diversity, which is grounded in the cornerstone principles of fairness, accuracy, and truth-telling." The Institute believes that "the scope of stories and the range of storytellers must include the greatest variety of people and ideas" and helps connect journalists with those most often under-covered by the media.

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Media Watch News Clips


"As part of the effort to increase campus diversity, the University of Washington administration is proposing $65 million in scholarship money to attract minority students who are graduating at the top of their high school class. UW President Richard McCormick presented the proposal as part of the UW's strategic plan to increase diversity to the Board of Regents on Friday, Oct. 20....The new scholarship proposal is one of several by the University to counter drops in minority enrollment since the passage of Initiative 200 in 1998, which banned the consideration of race in the admissions process." ("$65M in Scholarships Part of U. Washington Plan to Attract Top Minority Students," The Daily, 1 November 2000)

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"The road from San Antonio to Cedar Falls, Iowa, may be among those less traveled, but for Dubelsa Barajas it's paved her way to a free college education....It's not that Iowa--perhaps known by Texans more for its brutally cold winters than its third-largest university--held particular appeal for [her]. It's the carrot Northern Iowa dangled in front of them: Tuition, fees, room and board. All taken care of. Guaranteed. As part of a fledgling program to diversify its largely white Anglo student population, Northern Iowa aggressively is recruiting minorities at colleges like Palo Alto. While university officials say there is neither government edict nor monetary incentive for diversifying enrollment, it has become a high priority mission to offer its students a racially mixed educational environment.... 'We do this not only to give these recruits more opportunities; we do it because it gives Iowa students a chance to meet a diversity of students,' said Roland Carrillo, the university's director of financial aid. 'Minority enrollment should be part of student life'." ("Expenses Paid: Hispanic-Hungry Iowa College Offers Free Education," San Antonio Express News 31, October 2000)

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"The University of Michigan successfully defended the merits of a racially diverse campus in a federal lawsuit brought by two white applicants who claimed they were denied admission to the school because of policies favoring less qualified minorities...Diversity is obviously a desirable goal, both on campus and in the workplace. One of the reasons General Motors Corp. and other large corporations joined the lawsuit in U-M's defense is that they need a diverse pool of graduates to choose from. U-M convinced the court that diversity contributes to the educational process; that students learn better and think more critically in diverse classrooms." Editorial affirming the recent decision in favor of the University of Michigan which is defending its use of race in admissions. ("Achieving Diversity at U-M," The Detroit News, 15 December 2000)

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"As a senior in high school, I took many factors into consideration when choosing which college was right for me. After visiting Penn and reading all of the brochures, it seemed as if this university had everything that I wanted in my undergraduate experience: an excellent academic reputation, a great urban location, quality sports teams and the ability to interact with a diverse group of students. All but one of these original reasons for coming to Penn have lived up to my expectations....Penn has failed in its mission of utilizing its diverse mix of students....[T]he environment of Penn's campus still does not lend itself to the most advantageous level of interaction between diverse groups....After three years here, it has become clear to me that students find a comfort zone that often reflects their backgrounds. I have no problem with this primary interaction. However, the level of 'secondary interaction' is inadequate at Penn. I believe that not enough is being done to increase this latter type of interaction....A significant amount of knowledge can be gained from contact with people of different backgrounds. Penn needs to make a concerted effort to understand the perceptions of students and make changes accordingly." ("The Remedy for U. Pennsylvania's Racial Realities," The Pennsylvanian, 11 December 2000)

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"An alternative to conventional greek sororities will soon be established at Virginia Tech. Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority is looking to open a chapter at Tech. The idea to seek a multicultural sorority was conceived by Melissa Jo Murchison-Blake at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during the spring of 1996. As a biracial woman, Murchison-Blake did not want to limit herself to a sorority dominated by one race, she said....The sorority's mission is, 'To promote leadership, multiculturalism and self-improvement through academic excellence, involvement in and service to the campus and community, as well as being living examples of sisterhood across different races, cultures, religions, backgrounds, and lifestyles." ("New Sorority Hopes to Break Boundaries at Virginia Tech," The Collegiate Times, 1 November 2000)

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