Colorful Hands 2 of 3   _   George Fox students Annabelle Wombacher, Jared Mar, Sierra Rat

Diversity Efforts

As I've grown and embraced my identity as a Cuban American, my approach to storytelling has evolved. I grew up with stories of my grandparents fleeing their home country and coming to the United States as political refugees. Maturity and time have allowed me to recognize how important my familial experiences and heritage are to how I write and lead.

My college education took me to Boston, a city with demographics much different than my hometown of Omaha. I've continued to embrace the people that make up the fabric of these two places I call home. Ensuring intersectionality in newsrooms and in coverage never stops, regardless of where and when I pick up my pen.

DEI Training and Equity in Hiring

During my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to join the monthly lifestyle publication, Your Magazine. Now, as a rising sophomore, I am proud to lead the publication as Managing Editor. In this new position, I conduct and oversee all hiring, manage our budget, conduct editorial meetings, and ensure publishing cycles run smoothly. As one of the principal leaders of a student-run organization, I attend diversity and inclusion training through Emerson's student engagement and leadership organization (SEAL). Through the program, I learn how to root out my own biases and address issues relating to DEI in our magazine practices. Your Magazine's desire to maintain equity among members of our executive board prompted us to hire an official Diversity Chair as well as rewrite our mission statement.

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Introducing the Diversity/Inclusion Agreement

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In the summer of 2020, New York Times journalist Soledad O'Brien wrote a column detailing the racism and racial inequality present in newsrooms. At the Medill Institute, we examined the relationship this inequity has with warped journalistic coverage. I did some research on this when establishing my presentation, "Inclusivity in Journalism".

 

The organization of social movements like Black Lives Matter empowered me to create a Diversity and Inclusion Agreement specific to Millard North's journalism program. I wanted to encourage the recognition of unique voices on our staff while also creating an open environment conducive to discussions surrounding identity. The agreement can be seen to the left; all staff members of The Hoofbeat signed.

Even though I have since graduated from Millard North, all Hoofbeat contributors sign the agreement at the beginning of each year.

Diversifying Coverage

While many believe that high schoolers and young adults would rather scroll through TikTok than read a newspaper, I have a firm belief that my generation truly invests in social issues affecting them and their peers. Every issue, I strive to push the envelope and publish previously untold stories. Editorials have always been my way of creating space for others facing injustice.

This can be seen through my editorials discussing the racism of a school spirit tradition and identifying the unease of the student body following the arrest of a former teacher for sex crimes. In October of 2020, I wrote a story commemorating students of the LGBTQ+ community. In the section, "Focus Groups" below, I also discuss the two In Depths I was a part of that addressed racial discrimination.

Despite the diversity of topics I've covered, the response was generally the same. Surprise, frustration, a feeling of empowerment from audiences all followed each "controversial" story. I hope by maintaining my drive for diverse coverage these issues and personal experiences will become less controversial and continue to initiate difficult conversations.

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Making sure we evaluate the diversity of our content, the staff gathers after every issue and discusses which stories were the most successful.

Focus Groups

In 2019 and 2020, The Hoofbeat staff featured the racial inequity in our city and school district. While we commit to maintaining a diverse staff that is proportional to our school's racial and socioeconomic diversity, we realized the importance of leading discussions with students from all backgrounds. We had our first focus group in December 2019 (pictured to the right). The writers and I focused on inviting individuals that represented the different cultural, racial, and ethnic facets that make up our school. Our stories for the In Depth were much more comprehensive and most importantly, reflected student desire for change.

To read my feature story based off of the 2019 focus group, click here
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To read more about information gathering techniques, view Reporting

Educational Resources

Through my membership through the National Association for Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), I have access to a variety of resources focusing specifically on how to encourage diversity within newsrooms at the scholastic and professional level. With webinars titled: "Navigating Racial Issues in the Newsroom and in the Street" and "Trauma, Resilience, and Journalism", I use the information shared by prominent Hispanic/Latinx journalists and bring it to my own work. The NAHJ has become an important forum for me, enabling relationships with other student journalists nationally.

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For more information about the NAHJ, see their website.
Also, view the page, Law and Ethics.