Working at a newspaper can be a stressful job. Editors are constantly trying to fill the pages with interesting and engaging content to excite our readers. The Foghorn is a small paper run by student editors, and we rely on the hard work of student contributors to volunteer their talents and help us produce a newspaper. However, some important aspects of running a good newspaper take a backseat to the top priority of filling the pages. Ensuring that our content embraces diversity is one such aspect that is, unfortunately, sometimes neglected.
Two weeks ago the Foghorn received a letter (see below) from a student claiming that the October 8 issue of the Foghorn was discriminatory because it did not show enough diversity. We always encourage letters to the editors, and this one was particularly meaningful because it pointed out a flaw not in a specific article we were publishing, but in the overall message we were sending to the USF community.
The staff was very concerned with this letter, as the Foghorn has always taken pride in being a platform to showcase USF’s diverse campus. The author of the e-mail admitted she was not a regular reader of the Foghorn, but was concerned with the issue she did see. By looking at the issue in question, it truly did seem as though the Foghorn staff does not embrace campus diversity. There were practically no people of color in any of the photos, as if we wanted to convey that USF is a non-diverse, primarily Caucasian campus. However, this could not be further from the truth.
We firmly believe that a news publication should reflect its readership, and at USF we are aware that the readers are diverse and love embracing and learning about other cultures. We attempt to cover the many issues that highlight this diversity. There are many culturally focused clubs and organizations on campus that hold events to educate and inform other students. There are academic departments that invite lecturers from around the globe to talk about their areas of expertise. We attempt to cover these events and issues whenever possible; when things are not covered, it is because no one is available to report on it, not because we don’t care.
There is no excuse for the Foghorn to print an issue that excludes diverse ethnic backgrounds in photos or articles, but it is unfair to call the Foghorn a discriminatory publication overall. We embrace the plethora of cultures that shape USF and San Francisco. We also encourage all students to participate in the Foghorn by taking photos or writing articles. The more diversity there is in our contributors, the more diversity will appear in the paper.
We appreciate and take seriously the concern of the author of this letter. She has called to our attention the need to pay more attention to the types of articles we print and who is pictured in our photos. We will continue to do our best to accurately represent our student body every week. Becoming aware of our mistakes will not only improve our weaknesses and our coverage, but it will benefit the entire USF community. We will take the letter we have received to heart and show the USF community that the Foghorn embodies the mission of “Freedom and Fairness” that we claim it to be.