Conveying the democratic value in inclusive journalism

Today, diversity programs on campuses and inclusion statements on syllabi are commonplace at many schools. But how well do journalism instructors demonstrate the value of diversity through their course materials, group projects, assignments, term paper topics and even their use of style guides?

Diversity in media coverage is crucial for the health and functioning of a democracy. It ensures that audiences have access to a wide range of perspectives to enhance audience engagement on civic topics and hold power to account in all parts of democratic society.

Journalism students must learn and practice how to produce content that reflects society’s pluralism and reduces the risk of echo chambers by exposing audiences to differing opinions. Some of today’s journalists — who were educated a generation ago or even a decade ago — did not have teachers or courses that were intentional about diversity and inclusion. That failure of media education has contributed to the lack of inclusivity in journalist’s work process and news content.

At this moment in our history, when democracy is endangered, journalism educators must strive to provide a curriculum that naturally incorporates diversity into every assignment and discussion; and they must work to create a classroom environment where all students are heard and are listening.

Guides & Best Practices

Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation
Incorporating Diversity”
This guide provides strategies and techniques for ensuring that diversity has a place in the curriculum, such as ways to model the educator’s commitment to diversity and including diversity as a learning outcome.

NC State University Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity
“Toward inclusive practices: Creating inclusive syllabi”
This tip sheet includes guidelines in creating syllabi that are inclusive and welcoming to all students.

University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence
Creating Inclusivity
Adopting inclusive teaching methods, sample syllabus statements on inclusion and ground rules for classroom conversations are included in this guide.

California Polytechnic State University
“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom”
This guide covers a variety of topics including building community, creating book circles, ensuring inclusion in remote classrooms and more.

Media Diversity Institute
The Inclusive Journalism Handbook”
Formerly based at New York University, the Media Diversity Institute now takes a broader approach at teaching journalism throughout the world. It offers insights and resources to exploring differences in media in democracies, developing democracies and countries where news is restricted.

Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University
“Diversity Style Guide”
Originally developed at San Francisco State University, this guide compiles definitions and information from dozens of sources. It contains more than 700 terms related to race/ethnicity, disability, immigration, sexuality and gender identity, and other diversity issues.


Freedom Forum
Power Shift Project. Live, virtual training for journalism educators and leaders who want to make an impact in diversity and inclusion on campus and in their careers.

Race Forward
H.E.A.L. Training Series. Aimed at public education, these workshops include instructions on integrating cultural inclusivity into curricula.


Many journalism and civic organizations continue to add and improve their outreach and resources for journalism educators and students. Here are some of those groups:

Online News Association, the world’s largest digital journalism association, emphasizes education, diversity and inclusion. It features a student newsroom at its professional annual conferences.

Southern Poverty Law Center offers classroom resources, professional development and a framework for building inclusive lesson plans through its Learning for Justice project.

Journalism Education Association provides a collection of reports, videos and guides designed to increase understanding of the value of diversity in education.

Report for America is a journalism service organization focused on increasing diversity in newsrooms and news content. Resources include videos, news reports and guides useful for educators who want to include current and real-life journalism in their course material.

Center for Cooperative Media’s Democracy Infusion Project offers lesson plans, presentations, teaching notes and other resources on diversity and democracy instruction.

sample syllabi

Engaging Diverse Communities, Adam Perez, USC Annenberg

Race, Gender and the Media, Dorothy Bland, University of North Texas

Reporting on Race and Justice, Laura Castañeda, USC Annenberg

Dismantling Bias in the Media, Prachi Gupta, New York University

Media, Cultures and Identity, Celeste Wagner, University of Florida

Diversity and Communication, Trevy A. McDonald, University of North Carolina

additional resources

“We need local newsrooms that serve diverse audiences for our democracy to survive” by Karen Rundlet

Nieman Reports
“Want better coverage of threats to democracy? Diversify newsrooms” by Issac J. Bailey

Poynter Institute
“The collective: Passing the mic on the path to equity”
Newsletter (archives)

Journalism Practice
“Newspaper ownership, democracy and news diversity” by Jonathan Hendrickx and Annelien Van Remoortere
Research article

“Diversity and journalism” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Dr. Wayne Frederick