Discrimination in the Newsroom: It’s Real

“HGNJGGA’’[FGJALSDKGASDLKGJ;FJAF” the editor types, in place of the important work he is supposed to be recording. The classroom is indifferent. The teacher chuckles. “What about …” says a different journalist. Nobody listens to him. The journalist waits a second, then tries again. “What about …” “WHAT?” screams a different editor. The journalist’s ears are filled with the sound of screams and people yelling “Shut up!”. “Toxicity of seafood,” says the journalist. “Could we do that for an article?” The classroom/newsrooom erupts into laughter. “I’m serious!” says the journalist. The other students are too focused on mocking him to pay any attention to his statement. “That’s an important issue,” he tries again. “[NAME OMITTED]. We’re only typing down articles people are actually signing up for,” says the teacher, with a tired expression on her face. “I’ll write it,” says the journalist tentatively. The classroom explodes again. This time, he doesn’t even try to explain himself. “You can’t,” says the teacher. “You already have an article.” She is ignoring the fact that many people have multiple articles, and are even looking for more. The classroom continues to talk. “FUZZY BUNNIES!” screams an editor, a euphemism for “SHUT UP!” The classroom quiets down, but the editors continue to chat. When the journalist attempts to speak up about what is happening, he is quieted once more. This is the kind of thing that happens often in the newsroom (S-20). Classroom discrimination is something that happens often and this is most rife in the journalist’s home, the newsroom. Although it may seem commonplace, this sort of thing is only frequent because it is instigated by one and all, making it hard for the oppressed to break free of the relentless torture cycle. Here are two accounts of our oppressed experiences in a seemingly safe and welcoming environment. In the writing room, control is exercised as an almost totalitarian state by the editors and teachers. In response to one student who was playing relaxing music during the writing process, a teacher was heard to say that, “It doesn’t matter what you think,” when the student protested that most other writers wanted to keep the music playing. And its not like there’s just one dictatorial teacher in this Middle School workplace. Other administrators have been known to do this as well – one repeatedly shushed a journalist while he was contributing respectfully to his own work of writing, while letting another journalist continue on in the same manner as before. In one particular incident, a student accidentally dropped a small dime. The classroom erupted into chaos as many students (not the first) pushed, pulled, and shoved in order to try and get to the coin. When the situation had been quieted down, the original student was blamed by an editor for starting the riot, because he had a reputation of sometimes talking to the person beside himself instead of listening. In order for us to better understand the situation at hand, we interviewed a higher-up on the social newsroom ladder. To protect this editor’s identity, his or her name has been omitted.

Student: So, how are you?

Editor: I’m fine, thank you. What does that have to do with anything?

S: Nothing, it’s good. So. Is there any controversy in the newsroom?

E: Occasionally, yes.

S: Could you give me some examples?

E: At times, certain people with power have not allowed others, not be named, to express their opinions or give ideas for articles to be written. It’s not the greatest of systems. And even with the power that I have in newspaper, I don’t support this system of control.

S: Yeah, thanks. Could you also give some examples of discrimination?

E: Based on what?

S: Anything at all.

E: Students are discriminated against based on their reputations. Not that anyone here has a bad reputation *laughs* Or, based on what people think their reputations are, would be a better way of putting it.

S: Okay, could you tell me a little more about that?

E: Even before people speak, they are shut down and someone else is called on to express their opinion instead. The people that are shut down tend to be people that are not necessarily the greatest listeners. Nothing against you or anyone else in this class *laughs* So yeah, I mean that’s an example. Other examples include … like, without consent, articles can be changed. And that’s because of power, on the newspaper. It’s unfair in that there’s nothing they can do about it. As an editor, we have the administrator power in the newspaper, which means we could essentially shut it down if we wanted to. I mean, obviously we don’t, but we have that ability. So with this power we can also edit articles freely, without the actual author being able to do anything. This is obviously a huge issue. I find that outrageous. I have seen this happen. I’m proud to say I’ve never personally done this, but it has happened before. And I think it’s wrong to allow this to keep going on.

S: Yeah, thanks, [NAME OMITTED]. Anything else you’d like to add?

E: This article is a way to allow those people to finally express those opinions. I think it’s a good representation of those feelings, which is why I’m giving permission for this article to be written. I think it’s an important issue, and with the consent of my fellow articles I will try to put this right under the editorial.

S: Okay, thanks for your time. You’ve been a big help.

E: No problem. Why is this environment so oppressive? What are the possible reasons for this tyranny? We propose the theory that students are discriminated against if they have a poor record of turning in their articles, writing satisfactory ones, or even listening in meetings. While this environment at first seems fair, it prevents students from reforming and attempting to produce better work. If a student starts the year as a poor listener and turns in sparse and inadequate articles, that same student is unable to change because the reputation stays throughout the entire year in the minds of the editors and teachers. Even if the students are proposing good ideas in meetings, their reputation always comes first as a variable in the decision of whether to take it on as an article. So how can we fix this? Well, we can at least try not to create ideas of students’ possible capabilities for behaving, because that makes it hard for the student to mend their ways in our eyes. We can also create an environment which is less power-based, where the editors do not have full control and the regular reporters get a say as well. To conclude, we believe that there is an unfair system in the newsroom(Sharpless Room 20) and in many other places in the Middle School. The system involves students being blamed for things they didn’t do and unfairly treated because of their previous reputations. This system can be fixed by keeping our minds open to the behavior of students. Let us hope this discriminatory environment will be fixed in time.