When our campus had several bias-motivated incidents happen in one semester, we covered them thoroughly, starting with my own coverage of a fake noose found outside of a resident assistant’s floor. Following that initial incident, students of color on campus called out the administration for not handling the incident adequately or transparently.
Our coverage followed this dissent between the administration and the students who felt they were going unheard. During a public demonstration, we showed up ready and willing to cover what these students were organizing against the administration — but we had a problem: When we got there, they said they didn’t want to talk to us because they felt misrepresented by the newspaper.
This started a larger conversation in the newsroom. Why would students feel this way if we were taking such immense steps to diligently and accurately cover their communities this year? My managing editor and I held an internal meeting with our entire team to work to undo the perceptions and assumptions about how reporters cover communities of color. We need to take responsibility for the past.
Here’s what we presented to our staff: