The paper received an email asking for a response to a few questions by July 25 for an article that will be up on J-Source, which is a collaboration of post-secondary journalism schools led by Ryerson, Laval and Carleton. It will be about whether student media represents the diversity of Canada.
The questions mainly had to do with the self-identification of the editorial board, our staff, on a number of different categories. These were based on gender, race with specific note to Indigenous people, disabilities and gender or sexual minorities. While they could have divided a few of these categories to be more specific, analysis of diversity in the workplace continues to be a positive endeavour that should be undertaken and explored more in-depth.
McMaster’s Employment Equity Working Committee released a new report on July 23 in a similar vein. It provides a detailed roadmap based on input from different parts of campus, e.g., each of the different faculties and research departments. The focus is primarily on “… a more complete understanding of representation of all four groups designated by the Federal Contractors Program: women; First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) peoples; persons with disabilities; and members of visible minorities, as well as the representation of trans and LGBTQ+ employees.”
The last recent example for this article will be a comment piece by the Public Editor over at The Varsity, which is the University of Toronto’s student newspaper. While a lot of it has to do with online commenting platforms, it transitions into the commitment the paper has, “… to diversity in its newsroom and reporting.” Their primary focus seems to be on gender and race.
These three examples from university campus media and McMaster have varying degrees of data collection and analysis, but all of them miss a few categories. While there are more categories of diversity, these three are, arguably, the most apparent ones missing.
The first is socioeconomic status. However, that would have less influence if you are considering only university student journalists or McMaster employees in your sample. The second would be ideologies, e.g., political beliefs and religious beliefs. I can understand not asking these respondents may not be comfortable answering accurately or answering at all, and may change at a more variable rate over time. The third is age.
While certainly not as attractive a stat, diversity in age should be deemed an importance if your goal is to represent the population in what you report about, who is reporting and the demographics of your employees.
University is always idealized as a place where you develop and grow. It is easy for anyone to note the differences between a first year and a fourth year and someone fresh out of university to someone about to go into retirement. When you are getting survey data or considering your workplace’s diversity, why would you ignore something as important as age?
It is simply too important. When it comes to reporting at The Silhouette, diversity and different perspectives have a significant influence on our articles in every section. The diversity of who is reporting it or who is being reported on is vital to allow a full representation of the McMaster student body, and to continue to progress and pass on information to the younger members of staff before graduating.
We cannot afford to ignore age. If other organizations or the university have missed the point by filling quotas instead of noting the benefits and embracing all types of diversity, including one as obvious as age, then that is disappointing.