Diversity vs. Truth: The SPJ`s Agenda
How can I politely say what must be said? The
contents of the newsletters and magazine are so far
removed from the
traditions of journalism that I cannot believe that
the SPJ sees itself as a beacon for reporters.
The SPJ has glommed onto diversity and it is not
letting go. To the SPJ, covering the news means
diversity first, last and always. Whatever else you
do, don`t let the story get in the way of a
The SPJ recently adopted the practice of distributing
a monthly diversity “tip sheet.” The August 2002
“The Whole Story: SPJ Diversity Tips and Tools,”
begins by asking what
diversity means to journalists.
Keith Woods, a journalism teacher at the Poynter
Institute and SPJ point man for diversity, has the
First, be sure you are “inclusive.” Urges Woods,
“Include in your coverage
those who have frequently been left out of the news,
particularly black people, Asians, Latinos, Native
Americans, white women, gays, lesbians and poor people
of all races.”
Second, be certain that your coverage is in-depth.
Woods recommends finding
“the people whose stories
aren`t being told and tell them. Locate stories that
help your readers understand the people and the world
If you are having trouble putting your story
together—that would be defined by the S.P.J. as not
having a strong enough tie to diversity –then Woods
recommends you access the “Rainbow
Source Book and
Diversity Tool Box” where you will find a “pot of
The toolbox offers an online database of
from populations historically underrepresented in the
“improve news accuracy and
quality by broadening the perspectives and voices in
Translation: if you need some more
diversity padding for your story, e-mail one of the “experts.”
All this is fascinating, indeed. I don`t know what
newspapers Woods reads but among the dozens I review
every day I find no shortage of quotes from minority
groups and their advocates. In fact, I find their
stories told in repetitive detail day after day.
And as far as “people whose stories aren`t being
told” I am still waiting for a story about a
software programmer displaced by a H-1B visa holder
lost his job to an illegal alien willing to work for
$10.00 an hour.
A deeper look into
Woods` page at the
Poynter Institute is enlightening. Listed as “Other
Resources” are the Anti-Defamation League, The
Intelligence Project, Tolerance.org, The Simon
Wiesenthal Center, and The Center for the New Community.
Southern Poverty Law Center must hold a special
place in the hearts of the Poynter Institute and Keith
Woods. Not only is the S.P.L.C. listed but also a
contact name and phone number are included.
The Poynter Institute, it should be noted, received a
two-year, $600,000 grant from the
Ford Foundation to study ways to improve minority
coverage in the press.
The SPJ made diversity its number one cause some time
ago. In March 2002, the cover story for Quill was
titled “Making Diversity a Reality.” The feature
“Getting Past a `white, middle-class` America”
[member archive] was written by SPJ Diversity Committee
Chair Sally Lehrman.
Lehrman wrote that SPJ`s newfound emphasis on
diversity had received mixed reviews. Nevertheless,
Lehrman remained adamant that reporters have the
cover all kinds of people fairly and accurately”
with special pains taken to include
“olive-complexioned men and women, Sikhs, Muslims and
devout religious people of all types…”
All of this diversity mumbo-jumbo is done in the name
of more professional reporting. The SPJ, it insists at
the end of its newsletter,
“works to improve and protect journalism. The
organization is dedicated to encouraging the free
practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of
If only these platitudes had a grain of truth in
them! Last summer, in the middle of my research for
on media standards in immigration reporting, I traveled
to Denver, CO. to meet with Fred Brown. At the time,
Brown was the SPJ Ethics Committee Chair and political
editor of the Denver Post. He has since retired
from both positions.
Brown, former Colorado Governor
Dick Lamm and I had a very cordial session. I had
dozens of examples of major newspapers (including
the Denver Post) with the most
biased possible immigration coverage.
Brown acknowledged that the reporting was slanted and
unprofessional. I asked if I could write a story for
Quill regarding lack of professionalism in
Brown referred me to Quill editor Jeffrey Mohl.
Later in the summer, I set out from Lodi for Quill
headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Another convivial
meeting took place wherein Mohl agreed with everything
that I said.
But the final word from the SPJ was that Quill
wouldn`t publish my piece about bias in immigration
reporting because I have “an agenda.”
I told Brown and Mohl that my agenda was exactly the
same as the SPJ`s: “…to improve and protect
journalism…and stimulate high standards of ethical
Here`s the final question.
Look at the SPJ`s Diversity Tip Sheet, the Rainbow
Source Book, the Diversity Tool Box, the Poynter
Institute`s links to organizations with a singleness of
purpose and Quill Magazine`s many pro-diversity
Now tell me who has the agenda?
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.