McGruder Award Winner: Online News Sites Need to Feel ‘Heat’ on Diversity

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By: E&P Staff

In his “Journal-isms” online blog for the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Richard Prince frequently notes the lack of racial and ethnic diversity among the journalists of online-only news and commentary sites. In a lecture earlier this week, Prince suggested New Media may have to be dragged into staffing diverse newsrooms just as legacy media like newspapers and television news were in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Having made my way in journalism at a time when news media either saw the need for affirmative action or were made to see it by community pressure, lawsuits or cases before the EEOC, I have no problem believing that the world of online journalism may have to feel the same heat in order to make progress,” Prince said.

Prince spoke as he accepted the Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Guest Lecture Award Tuesday at Kent State University. He reported on his remarks in a Journal-isms column.

Online news sites deserve the most attention when it comes to diversity, he said. Prince, an African American, is the first winner of the McGruder lecture award to work primarily online.

“There is a way out,” he said. “What the online world needs are diversity champions. People like the previous McGruder winners. People like Bob McGruder, Phil Currie, John Quinn, John Siegenthaler — names you should learn to know — and they are not all people of color. . . . Who is playing that role at the Huffington Post, Salon, Slate?”

Of the four former Gannett Co. executives he mentioned, only McGruder was a person of color.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley was honored at the same ceremony with the McGruder Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership

McGruder, a Kent State graduate, was executive editor of the Detroit Free Press who died in 2002.

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