In an ideal world, a publication might be able to publish all the perspectives on a given issue and give them equal representation. But in reality, there are things that—if published—undermine the creation of a space for public discourse that is inclusive of all members of the community. Publications engage in a social conversation, in a public debate, and have the power to influence public discourse. Because a publication brings issues to life for readers that may not experience those issues personally, it must be meticulous and respectful in the way it presents matters.
A publication’s staff should strive to reflect the community it seeks to serve, empower, and inform. It has a responsibility to advocate in service of those who are ignored and maligned by forces of authority. This needs to be a priority from the hiring and recruiting process, to the editorial process, to the writing that goes into the paper. The demographics of the newsroom influence the values that the publication abides by in carrying out its work. The Indy itself has a long history of overwhelmingly white and affluent staff membership. We acknowledge this, and realize that when we speak of ideals we describe a set of principles that we have not yet realized. But we commit ourselves to the effort, and ultimate success, of staff diversification. As editors of color on the staff of the Indy we demand this of our own staff, and recommend this to our peer publications.
Every publication should consider the standards for what it is willing
to print. Making use of guiding values is especially important because any negative outcome of the production process reflects poorly on the entire staff and not just the individuals who made the offending decision. Accountability requires keeping a public record of your mistakes, owning up to them, and working towards a better reflection, and understanding, of the publication’s values.