NAHJ President speaks with The Washington Post regarding ‘White, and in the minority’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NAHJ National President Hugo Balta led a phone call with The Washington Post‘s Executive Editor, Marty Baron, to address the story ‘White, and in the minority’, published on July 31. NAHJ previously expressed concern regarding the ethics of journalism within the story due to an unbalanced viewpoint and lack of context.
After releasing the first statement, NAHJ leadership received a response from The Washington Post communications team:
‘The Washington Post has a long tradition of narrative reporting on the experiences of immigrants and minorities in America, as recent work by a number of Post reporters vividly demonstrates. Many of their stories recount the experiences of immigrants as they adapt to America and confront discrimination, shifting policies and other challenges. Terrence McCoy’s story captured the perspective of those who feel displaced by demographic change, by conveying what it is like for two white Americans who must themselves adapt to a new America. McCoy portrays their fear, resentment and xenophobia – as well as their responses to the attempts of their Latino co-workers to interact with them. McCoy’s work will continue to explore the emergence of a multicultural majority in America.’
While NAHJ understands the author of the ‘White, and in the minority’ story intended to explore the cultural anxiety experienced by the white couple featured in the piece, mentions of the workers do not translate into a reflection of those voices. It is unethical as journalists to humanize particular individuals, while leaving out context regarding others in an attempt to foster the understanding of one point of view.
During the exchange, both Balta and Baron took turns explaining their perspectives on the story in question. Marty Baron stated many points in his conversation including, but not limited to:
– his position that the criticism of the piece is due to a misreading of the story,
– the clear narrative of the story is about the point of view of a non-Hispanic, white young woman who feels alienated by the demographic change at her workplace, consistent with similar pieces produced by The Washington Post,
– that the piece went through standard editorial process and was edited by a person of color,
– and it is unfair that The Washington Post and the writer have been vilified because of a misreading of the story.
Upon Balta’s request for The Washington Post to consider a follow up series on the initial piece, Baron replied he would not assign a reporter to do a follow up of the story.
The approval and justification of a story such as ‘White, and in the minority,’ reaffirms the mission of NAHJ to advocate for more Latinos in management and the importance of not only diversity, but inclusion in the newsroom. To simply have stories edited by a person of color, does not guarantee fair and accurate coverage. Moreover, the dearth of Latino decision makers results in incomplete and tone-deaf journalism; an empowered committee, group or council of diverse individuals on the newsroom floor is an essential element in 2018.
“Story development from concept to completion must not only take into consideration narrative, but fairness and accuracy, which this piece is lacking,” said NAHJ President Hugo Balta. “While I understand that Mr. Baron’s position on the intent of the piece was not to fan flames of division in this country, the necessity of diversity and inclusion is clearly not recognized nor understood in this instance.”
“It has left those applauding this piece shortsighted,” he added.
The NAHJ leadership thanked Marty Baron for his time to speak about the significance of the industry’s concern and expressed their ongoing commitment to working with the newsroom leaders in the future.
About NAHJ The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is the largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States and dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. The mission of NAHJ is to increase the number of Latinos in the newsrooms and to work toward fair and accurate representation of Latinos in news media. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. NAHJ has approximately 2,300 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators. For more information please visit NAHJ.org or follow on Twitter @NAHJ.
Veritas Group for NAHJ