Diversity in journalism hasn’t been discussed much in mainstream publications, but with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and increased coverage of the killings of unarmed black men in this country, it’s something that needs to be addressed.

Tony Robinson’s death: a portrait of a life ended, a life halted, a community unitedSaturday morning, a team of three Madison police officers stood outside the house at 1125 Williamson Street on the Near Read…


At the beginning of the month an upstart blog Madison365 published an op-ed by Rev. David Hart titled, ‘If You’re White, You’re Alright,’ which addressed the lack of minorities in Madison’s newsrooms.

Shortly after the article was published, Wisconsin State Journal columnist Chris Rickert responded via Facebook and dismissed Hart’s article by listing a few names such as Ogechi Emechebe, a reporter and recent hire for the Capital Times, as well as three TV reporters and a TV morning anchor. 

Rickert said there are plenty of voices — of all colors — in the media. He added that in his opinion it doesn’t matter that people of color have not regularly been hired at newspapers around the country because they have their own publications.

It’s okay to look at the progress made and be satisfied with that. But to imply the color quota has been reached in print news is nothing short of insulting.

Print is still one of the most universally respected news sources. It is troublesome that there is a diminutive amount of minorities at these places.

The Capital Times only has one person of color listed on their editorial staff. Even worse, Rickert’s employer, The Wisconsin State Journal, has an editorial staff of 50 plus, yet has as many people of color on said staff as I have Superbowl rings — none.

Overall for the city of Madison’s mainstream publications, only about 4 percent of full-time editorial staffs are minorities. This is considerably lower than the average of 13 percent nationwide. 

Rickert can’t just disregard this fact by saying there are smaller publications for minorities to write at, especially if they don’t have the financial support and readership these larger publications have.

Madison365 had to resort to a kickstarter, making a public appeal for donations just to get their operation up and running. The readership is smaller with blogs like Madison365 and their important messages don’t reach many of the people who actually need to hear them.

Middle class white Americans aren’t reading Ebony. But they are reading newspapers like the New York Times and the Wisconsin State Journal. More minorities in these publications might just ensure these messages reach those who need to hear them.

What people like Rickert need to realize is simply having a minority presence is not enough. I, like many others, stay motivated by seeing diversity in high-ranked positions.

It’s easy for someone like Rickert, who facilitates and sees perspectives that mirror his own, to think there is a sufficient amount of alternative viewpoints from minorities. But the truth is we are shortchanging the entirety of societal discourse when we put quotas on perspectives.

Diverse perspectives are important and drive true change. If Rickert wants to render these perspectives to a quota system, then it’s sounding more and more like he is standing in the way of that change.

Miles Brown ([email protected]wisc.edu) is a recent UW graduate with a major in political science and history with a certificate in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies.