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DEI is easy to implement, but there’s still a lack of it in student journalism

As a woman of color journalist, I view everything I do through the eyes of a minority. From my academics to my personal life, I’ve stopped trying to push down my identities and instead embrace them. One thing that I’m constantly critiquing from a diversity, equity and inclusion aspect is my career field.

Women are surprisingly in the majority for journalist demographics with about 53.4% identifying as female and about 46.6% identifying as male in the U.S.. About 13% of journalists are LGBTQ+, but only about 8.5% of journalists are Asian. I’ve mentioned before in my columns that I focus on advocating for my Asian American identity, as there are other and more women and members of the LGBTQ+ community to speak out on those issues for me.

While I try to gain clips and newsroom experience with the various publications I’m on, I’ve noticed a lack of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, initiatives being put in place. It’s important to note that while, yes, Ohio University is a predominantly white institution, that doesn’t exempt student journalists from not taking action in ensuring the work they do accurately represents the people and topics they’re reporting on.

Especially since journalists are supposed to be for the people, it’s disheartening to watch people in executive positions, mainly white students at that, not fully committing themselves to reporting on issues that marginalized communities have to endure. It’s a privilege to be able to pick and choose what you do and don’t report on, as well as what you put in print or online for others to see.

While there has been a rise in commitment to DEI on some publications, the executions of it have been poor. There is a fine line that editors have to walk in not using POCs and other minorities for performative reasons, but also not overloading them either with the responsibility to educate others. It gets tiring having to talk about being a minority all the time, yet I wouldn’t want a white person attempting to create what they believe is to be “equitable and inclusive” either.

A piece of advice that I have for student publications: it’s OK to acknowledge your faults and know that there is work that still needs to be done. DEI is not a one and done thing, but it’s a process that will need time and conscious effort in order for it to be successful and done right. There is no reason to pride yourself on status or try to hide the flaws within your publication when it comes to DEI initiatives. Being open to criticism and allowing feedback from not only your staff but community members is important.

If you’re wanting to become more DEI oriented at your publication, here’s some tips: Listen to your writers. The people that know the publication the best are the staff and writers, so listen to them first on their critiques before extending out to those that don’t know the publication culture. Make DEI training for all those in editor positions required as soon as possible. Editors are supposed to be the ones others look up to, and if they aren’t focused on DEI then the rest of your staff won’t be either. Lastly, don’t say you’re committed to DEI and not follow through. Trust me, people can see through your performative actions and it’ll only hurt your reputation.

Mimi Calhoun is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Have something to say? Email Mimi at or tweet her @mimi_calhoun.

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