Many faces, many voices.
As a field that is dominated by men and whites, it is important that journalists of conscience support women and minorities in the newsroom. This means not making jokes or public judgements about women for how they look or talk, or what they wear-- this perpetuates an already pervasive attitude in journalism (particularly in broadcasting) that a woman's looks are more important than her abilities. It also says that you do not take her seriously as a co-worker.
Don't make jokes or public judgements about minorities-- this perpetutates racist attitudes in the newsroom. If you hear people making predjudiced comments, call them on it. Double-check that you are treating women and people of color fairly in your coverage. If you are unsure, ask a woman or person of color if they think something is sexist/racist (and be prepared to accept her honest answer). As journalists of conscience, we should work to eradicate any prejudices that might undermine our solidarity or hinder fair news coverage.
Some sensitivity issues to watch out for:
- Don't describe women by their appearance, age, or marital status unless it is relevant to the story.
- Do not describe a subject's race unless it is relevent to the story.
- AP Style prefers the use of the term "black" as a description for race. However, "black" should never be used as a noun (NO: "Three blacks ran for office in District 3").
- When refering to transgendered invididuals, use the pronoun they prefer for themselves.
- When describing disabled and/or elderly persons, avoid patronizing language or surprised descriptions of their ability to do normal things.
- Girls are 17 or younger. Women are 18 or older.
- Watch how you describe lower-income or working-class people and neighborhoods
(ex: A lot of people would probably object to the description of their neighborhood as a "slum" or "ghetto," especially since white reporters tend to apply the word more to black or hispanic neighborhoods than they do to poorer, white neighborhoods).
- Don't use ethnic stereotypes / generalizations in your coverage.
- Use "gay" or "lesbian," not "homosexual".
- Just as you wouldn't use slang terms to refer to a person of color, do not use them for women (chick, babe, bitch, nag, whore, slut, etc). This goes for your personal life too.
- Do not say or infer that some jobs are "women's jobs," and some jobs are "men's jobs." Saying "the female police officer was decorated" is sexist because it implies that it's unusual-- out of place-- for a woman to be a police officer (or to be good at it). You would never say, "the male police officer was decorated."
- Avoid ethnocentric reporting. American media constantly imply (or outright state) that other countries and cultures are inferior, backward, compared to the United States. Arabic and Islamic cultures are favorite targets of American media, which loves to highlight their societies' problems. If OUR culture were represented thus (and probably is in some foreign media), you might say that Americans are greedy, fat, lazy, selfish, racist, trigger-happy, war-mongering fundamentalists. Obviously this is not a fair characterization of Americans, but every culture seems backward if you only look at its faults!