Listening, accessibility vital in improving Texan’s diversity

Abby Springs

Editor’s note: Abby Springs 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? 

The Daily Texan isn’t perfect.

I’m not the first to say it, and I won’t be the last. We’ve gotten things wrong, we’ve misreported and we’ve failed communities on this campus to who we have a duty to serve.

Like most newsrooms across the country, the Texan is not as diverse as it should be. When we lack diversity, we miss important facts, stories and context. We make damaging and harmful mistakes that hurt marginalized students.

The Daily Texan, and the opinion department specifically, needs more diversity with a staff that represents students from all backgrounds. As editor-in-chief, I intend to listen closely and fight hard to help get us there.

In day-to-day work, the editor-in-chief is in charge of the content that runs on the opinion page. From hiring columnists, to building the editorial board, to soliciting op-eds, the editor-in-chief makes decisions that shape what the opinion page looks like.

Diversity is an essential part of the opinion page. Without it, we fail at our duty to advocate and call out injustice on campus, because we aren’t listening to the people affected by those injustices.

I believe diverse voices come from diverse backgrounds, and I can guarantee that in my hiring practices, promotion decisions and campus engagement efforts, representing all of UT will always be at the forefront of my mind.

However, creating an inclusive newsroom isn’t a one-woman job, nor should it be. Texan staffers have done, and are currently doing, hard work to create a more inclusive newsroom, improving connections with campus communities and platforming underrepresented voices. They deserve all the credit — credit that I can’t take.

As editor-in-chief I would listen to and follow the example of these Texan leaders to ensure that diversity and recruitment efforts in the opinion department are being done in a respectful and inclusive way. I would also try to seek out and encourage the feedback of other Texan staffers working in this space. Because representation isn’t just about having diverse voices. It’s about actively listening to, working with and promoting them.

On the broader, administrative side of the Texan, the editor-in-chief also has the power to advocate for new opportunities for Texan staffers. A representative newsroom isn’t possible when not all students are able to work at the Texan, as is the case for many low-income students today.

Working at the Texan takes time and energy, and roughly half of our staff spends hours per week working for the paper for no pay. Like most unpaid work, it’s a luxury, one that many low-income and working students can’t afford.

To remedy this, I intend to establish a program that allows Texan staffers to claim course or internship credit for working at the Texan. I hope that this program lets students take a lighter course load during a semester for the same credit hours, allowing them to dedicate time to work at the paper and gain valuable experience for their future careers.

Breaking down barriers to accessibility is an important step in making sure that all students can work in the newsroom, no matter their socioeconomic status. 

Lastly, if you’ve ever felt hurt by Daily Texan reporting, if you’ve felt like this paper isn’t a space for you, I want to apologize. We can’t change our past, but as editor-in-chief, I want to listen closely and fight hard to make sure we are representing you in the future.

Springs is a government and political communication sophomore from Dallas