November 17, 2018 | ° F

VOTE YES: Targum helps diversify homogenous media


The Daily Targum received the gamut of criticisms that led some students to vote "no" for referendum when I worked there.

"The Daily Targum is too liberal. The Daily Targum is too conservative. The Daily Targum hates Jewish people. The Daily Targum hates Muslim people. The Daily Targum is too harsh on administrators. The Daily Targum lets administrators get away with everything."

We heard you loud and clear, and they probably still do.

The Daily Targum’s staff has so much annual turnover that any living, breathing agenda you perceive can only last a year. Generally only one to three editors continue onto the next editorial board, which gives The Daily Targum a new identity each year. Have a problem with The Daily Targum? It won’t persist for long. But if you’re fed up with journalism, here’s an industry issue showing no signs of disappearing: Newsrooms lack diversity.

Minorities represent 38 percent of our nation but accounted for only 22.4 percent of television journalists, 13 percent of radio journalists and 13.34 percent of daily-newspaper journalists in 2014, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. Newspapers with a circulation of less than 50,000 typically have zero minority journalists, reported the American Society of News Editors.

A majority of Rutgers students are minorities, according to The College Board. Diversity made The Daily Targum greater when I worked there, and those diverse voices now benefit the world.

Here’s a glance at Board 145: Shirley Yu (associate photo editor) took TIME Magazine’s cover photo — you read that right — for March 7’s issue. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (opinions editor) made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for successfully managing and growing MuslimGirl.net. Julian Chokkattu (news editor) writes for Digital Trends.

There are too many to mention from that board and others. S. Mitra Kalita, The Daily Targum’s first minority editor-in-chief, is the Los Angeles Times’ managing editor, but I digress.

Anyone still subscribing to the belief that diversifying workplaces means holding minorities to a lower standard will love that The Daily Targum offers no handouts.

Joining The Daily Targum’s editorial board means working full-time during college, spending most of your lectures writing articles and finally getting to two months of schoolwork a day before the midterm. Job interviewers have never asked me about my grades or classes. They asked about firsthand experience.

Journalism professors emphasize the importance of internships. They’re vital for landing a job, but also contribute to newsrooms’ lack of diversity — especially economic diversity. Students who must work to afford college often don’t have time for unpaid internships. The Daily Targum offers opportunities for paid positions while helping students land internships.

I’m not a minority. But working in a diverse newsroom increased my awareness of injustices and made me less afraid to discuss them in my sports reporting.

University administrators and professors who stand by Rutgers’ diversity should do everything in their power to embolden The Daily Targum. But they don’t vote for referendum.

Voting “yes” on referendum isn’t an endorsement for The Daily Targum. If you don’t like the paper, many of the students running it will have graduated by 2019’s referendum vote. But think long-term, and support an institution diversifying and ultimately benefitting the media.

Josh Bakan is a Rutgers University Class of 2014 alumnus. He is a former associate sports editor for the Daily Targum and currently a sports reporter for The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, New York.


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Josh Bakan

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