Journalism plays a phenomenally important role in informing the public on untold stories and facts, and, in turn, shaping public opinion. From a local to an international scope, journalism is the agenda setter for what issues we unitedly give our attention to, as well as the watchdog over authority to uphold our sense of justice and democracy. This places the monumental power of influence on those who have the platform to write on and an audience that follows.
With that said, it is a tremendous privilege to be a journalist.
However, there is a gaping discrepancy in the population of those who are journalists and are not.
Despite the fact that our country is becoming increasingly diverse with ethnic minorities making up 41.5 percent of the population, only 16.9 percent of overall staff in American newsrooms are non-white. Individual writers’ experiences and backgrounds influence what types of articles are published by any given publication; Because of this discrepancy, entire swaths of the American population are ignored, misunderstood and erased.
The Foothill Dragon Press is no exception.
Foothill is 55 percent white. We can’t ignore that the other 45 percent of students are people of color. Since our publication’s founding in 2009, that 45 percent has not continuously been represented in our staff.
Thus, it is critical for The Foothill Dragon Press to implement a new section, called Intersections, that gives voice to minority students who weren’t properly represented in the past.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to recognize that diversity is not just about race and ethnicity. Where are the LGBTQ+ writers? The low-income writers? The disabled writers? The non-Christian writers? And all other writers of minority backgrounds?
A newsroom lacking diversity impacts what content we, as a publication, choose to cover and what students we choose to interview when attempting to provide student insight. Additionally, it impacts what experiences we can and can’t understand, and thus do or do not deem as issues worthy of coverage.
Without a diverse staff, we can’t inform—and haven’t informed—our readers to the best of our ability.
We can’t claim that we serve or represent all students.
For these effects and their ramifications, we apologize.
The purpose of starting Intersections is to ensure a safe space for underrepresented and marginalized voices for the present and near future. Ultimately, Intersections (minority voices) should not be separate from what we perceive as standard News, Opinions, Arts & Entertainment or any other section. However, it is mainstream media that creates a division between standard coverage and coverage that pertains specifically to marginalized communities. We realized that when we don’t specifically allocate a space for these perspectives to be written, we’re complying with the current lack of attention and progression, and nothing will change.
We envision Intersections to share stories that are significant to minority and marginalized students—whether they’re first-person reflections or investigative documentaries of campus experiences; opinion pieces on less mainstream ideas; advice and opportunities specific to helping identity-induced trauma or hardships; or features on unnoticed people who have made a huge impact on minority communities.
We hope these stories will not only give marginalized students a place for dialogue amongst themselves but also help people who are not a part this community to become supportive allies through gaining understanding and respect.
We acknowledge that because The Foothill Dragon Press isn’t as diverse as it could be at the moment, there are students who are less inclined to apply (or feel less welcomed to do so) because they don’t see people like themselves on the staff. It’s a cyclical, systemic issue that could take a long time to be fully resolved, but this is where we start.
We encourage all students who want to share their unique perspectives to apply for Intersections for the next 2019-2020 school year. Applications will open on Feb. 13. In mid-February, we will be visiting all 9th, 10th and 11th grade Foothill English classes to explain the application process for The Foothill Dragon Press. We will further explain and answer any questions then. Feel free to comment below or email us.
In the meantime, we welcome all students to write columns to be published under Intersections (email [email protected] to submit a column).
Attempts to rectify the disparity in representation must begin in local newsrooms, like our own. The beginning of Intersections is only a start that will feed into a more well-rounded publication and well-represented student body. We welcome all who are interested in joining us.
-Jimena Perez, Intersections Editor 2019-20 and Rachel Chang, Social Media/Science Editor 2018-19