Editor’s note: Emily Caldwell is currently running to become the next editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan. For this column, she was given the following prompt: The Daily Texan has for years struggled to represent the UT community in both the demographics of our newsroom as well as in our content. What does a representative and inclusive newsroom look like, and how will you work to achieve that as editor-in-chief?
“I think the biggest aspect of actually getting better newsrooms is valuing a person for what they bring and not just for the fact that they’re there. It’s one thing to have a Black person in the room or something like that, but if they don’t feel the ability or the room to kind of maneuver and do exactly what it is they want to do, then it doesn’t mean anything. And just in general, with all writers, enabling people to write their experiences is really important.”
— Jade Fabello, journalism and communication and leadership senior.
“I think a diverse and inclusive newsroom is one that includes members of the UT community, or whatever community they’re working in, and actually represents them. That means having a diverse staff, having more people of color, or people from groups like the LGBTQ community. As far as inclusion, it also means that this diverse staff isn’t just there but they’re actually given the time and space to do meaningful work representing the communities they might be familiar with or tied to, without getting pushback.”
— María Méndez, former Daily Texan reporter and UT alumna.
“A lot of newsrooms lack diversity, and that really shows not only in silencing and making particular stories invisible but also not adding important perspectives into existing stories. If you focus your attention on those stories that are not being talked about, you will find those people that you need to include in your space. You won’t see those needs, you won’t understand those communities, unless you include those people.”
— Dominique Montiel Valle, journalism Ph.D. student.
“You don’t get paid at the Texan. When I was working there, I was getting paid what came out to two dollars an hour. You have to be able to afford to work at the Texan, otherwise you can’t. If the Texan is only accessible to people who can afford to be paid $2 an hour while giving their entire time, energy, blood sweat and tears and whatnot, then the work is going to reflect that.”
— Sarah Tang, radio-television-film and sociology senior and former Daily Texan video editor.
“I feel like people forget that it was only in 1956 when Black people were admitted into the University. Having Brown people writing stories and leading these organizations, and Black people, and transgender people, and nonbinary people, is huge. Don’t put people in a box. It makes organizations and stories just so much more powerful and more inspirational and world-changing. Isn’t that what UT wants to be, a place that changes the world?”
— Callie Blake, journalism senior.
“You have a more fully dimensional product, whether it’s editorial or an article, when diversity is part of the picture. Your work is now informed by more perspectives. You get pitches you might not have thought of before, you interview people you might not have interviewed before. It’s not just writing stories about diversity but including diversity in all aspects of the news production process.”
— Kathleen McElroy, director of the School of Journalism.
It was clear to me from the beginning of my campaign I couldn’t do any of this alone — especially something as critical as fostering a representative and inclusive newsroom. This is advice I’ve received from peers, mentors and friends on how to best approach something the Texan has struggled with since its inception: representation.
Gathering and incorporating input from marginalized voices in our community is the first step toward building a diverse staff and expanding our coverage of different groups on campus. I will use input like this when formulating editorial topics and goals for the opinion department, and I will always look for more feedback throughout my time as editor-in-chief.
My platform is built around making the Texan more accessible, and with your help, we can change the way the Texan represents this campus — for the better. Please feel free to submit any thoughts, questions or feedback you have for me through the following form: http://bit.ly/emilyforeditor
I can’t wait to hear from you.
Caldwell is a journalism and Latin American studies junior from College Station.