High school senior initiates diversity editor position

High school senior initiates diversity editor position

The dedication to diversity and inclusion is a practice many professional organizations continue to struggle with. One Massachusetts high school student decided to take action for his school newspaper.

“In the wake of the social unrest following George Floyd’s death, my school started requiring all students to attend workshops on racial injustice,” said Evan Cheigh, senior at Groton School. “Although these talks were thought-provoking, adult-led talks seemed too didactic at times. If sustainable change were to happen, students needed to embrace the values of diversity, equity and inclusion on their own.”

Cheigh spent the summer researching ideas to prepare for his new position as the diversity and inclusion editor for his student newspaper, The Circle Voice.

“High school newspapers aren’t so different from national media organizations in the diversity issues they face — from mastheads to bylines and from content to sourcing,” he said. “Having served in many editorial roles in the CV, I knew we could make it better from a diversity and inclusion perspective.”

Cheigh determined the diversity, equity and inclusion editor role: ensures diversity of reporting, recruits writers from underrepresented backgrounds and facilitates unconscious bias training. The editor should help student media better reflect its diverse community by writing with a nuanced understanding of many voices.

In addition to creating a diversity, equity and inclusion job description for his staff, Cheigh created “A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Guide for Student Newspapers” to share with other student media to aid in their diversity and inclusion efforts.

The guide includes:

  • Key findings from his research
  • Thought questions for student journalists to evaluate their coverage
  • Tips for student media to increase diversity and inclusion practices
  • Staff or classroom activities to gain better understanding of diversity and inclusion practices
  • Additional resource recommendations

“I wrote this guide to share my learning and help other high school newspapers integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into their journalistic missions,” Cheigh said. “Please feel free to use my ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Guide for Student Newspapers’ liberally — modify it to fit your school and community’s needs and pass it along to anyone else who might benefit from it.

This article is part of a series of resources JEA is recommending to advisers in an effort to provide antiracist teaching resources to educators. JEA is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its membership and practices. See the official statement here.

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, promoting professionalism, encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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