Blog: Latino Ed Beat

NPR Education Tweet Sparks Backlash

A tweet sent out by the official account of NPR’s Education Team has sparked quite a social media backlash and discussion about the sensitivity of education reporters toward minorities.

Last week, the following tweet appeared under the Twitter handle @npr_ed: “I reach out to diverse sources on deadline. Only the white guys get back to me :(“

The comment sparked a social media backlash and criticism, in particular from minority reporters and other journalists who challenged the assertion that minority sources are difficult to reach.

Blogger Jim Romenesko shared a memo sent out by NPR management to the news staff on Tuesday. The messaged warned that there is no privacy on the web and began by noting, “If you wouldn’t say it on the air, don’t say it on the Web.”

NPR has been under scrutiny for its diversity numbers lately. The media outlet shared the demographics of its newsroom: 77 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic, 10 percent black and 7 percent Asian.

Journalists should take this incident as reason to evaluate their own source lists — do you have a mix of people represented? Does your source list reflect the demographics of the community you cover? Take on the responsibility of developing diverse contacts, and you could benefit from a better payoff in the end.