Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity

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The need for culturally sensitive, accurate, and well-crafted reporting on race and ethnicity is as important as ever. Selected from works honored in the " Let's Do It Better! Workshop on Journalism, Race, and Ethnicity" held at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the television and newspaper stories in this collection are much-needed examples of excellence in reporting. The Authentic Voice is the most comprehensive multimedia tool to date on the coverage of race and ethnicity. The text, DVD, and website project is a unique resource, featuring interviews with leading journalists, including Ted Koppel, interactive discussion points, teaching tips and weblinks that are a must for journalism educators and professionals who want to improve their craft.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Mass Media Ethics - Jack Breslin
An important and highly useful addition to the collection of diversity related titles.
Quill & Scroll
Compelling. No one should study journalism without reading (and viewing) The Authentic Voice... It should be on the required reading list.
Journal of Mass Media Ethics
An important and highly useful addition to the collection of diversity related titles.

— Jack Breslin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231132886
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/23/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Arlene Notoro Morgan is the associate dean of prizes and programs at Columbia University and the director of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's " Let's Do It Better! Workshop on Journalism, Race, and Ethnicity." Formerly, she was an assistant managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she was honored with the first Knight Ridder Excellence Award for Diversity in 1995. Alice Irene Pifer is the director of professional education at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former producer at ABC News.Keith Woods is the dean of faculty at the Poynter Institute and a former reporter, city editor, editorial writer, and columnist at The Times-Picayune.

Columbia University Press

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Read an Excerpt



By Arlene Notoro Morgan Alice Irene Pifer Keith Woods

Columbia University Press

Copyright © 2006

Columbia University Press

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-231-13289-1


A discerning journalist might wonder what's so different about
reporting on race and ethnicity that someone would dedicate a book,
DVD and a website to the subject. To earn the mark of excellence,
after all, stories have to meet the same high standards, no matter
what the topic. They should offer a compelling tale that flows from
deep reporting. They should be packed with relevance, rich in
detail, flush with meaningful facts.

The stories in this book easily meet those demands. They also have
in common three other traits of first-class journalism: They provide
the sort of context that enhances understanding and increases
accuracy. They come alive with the three-dimensional voices of
ordinary people. Finally, they embrace the complexity that makes
human relations interesting.

These traits emerged as vital a few years ago when we set out to
determine what was unique about this kind of reporting. And while
all journalism should aspire to the combined completeness described
above, we learned something by studying the best stories about race
and ethnicity entered in the Let's Do It Better! workshop at the
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. We found that the
most successful reporting about race and ethnicity delivered solid,
fundamental journalism and fused voice, context, and complexity into
one authentic piece.

To do that, the journalists honored through the years at Columbia
and featured in this book had to surmount the ignorance, fear, and
rampant clichés that uniquely sabotage reporting about race
relations and cultural difference. They demonstrate that, done well,
these stories can transform fear and ignorance into curiosity; turn
cliché-laden frames into opportunities for surprise and discovery.

Journalism students and professionals alike can use these case
studies to figure out how to access unfamiliar cultures or get
people to talk about one of society's most taboo topics. In
interviews and essays, reporters, producers, and editors explain how
to fine-tune language, substituting precision for euphemism. They
educate, provoke, and validate old reporting techniques and
introduce new ones. In fact, the stories, interviews, and Web links
are themselves a collective history lesson that will benefit readers
of this text whether or not they aspire to a career in journalism.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, journalists have been
doubly challenged to forge reports that are honest and clear about
the obstacles faced by new immigrants as well as under-covered
groups that have been here for generations. This project represents
a compilation of work that we believe will foster important
conversations in the classroom and newsroom, enrich the learning
experience, and inform professional development. Waiting in these
pages, for example, is a look at the shifting demographics of the
Midwest, which saw a huge influx of Somalis in Minnesota, and the
unfolding stories of Latino and Asian immigration in New Jersey,
Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. And while there are stunning history
lessons to be found in stories about land stolen from black people
or the federal government's gross mismanagement of money in Indian
Country, those stories are also strong examples of investigative

We've divided the work into four categories-identity, equality,
untold stories, and cultural competence-that reflect the way news
organizations tend to frame coverage. Each section offers three or
four stories, along with a how-to essay by the producers, reporters,
or editors who presented the work at the Columbia workshop. We've
added a list of discussion points for each chapter, along with
research links and suggested readings. The DVD offers the entire
broadcast piece, interviews with the journalists that expand their
essays, and additional discussion questions pitched to those interviews. A
detailed DVD index directs the user to discussions of specific topics such
as ethics and handling stereotypes. The accompanying Website provides additional material, such as the remaining parts of series that
begin in the book, links to other pertinent Websites, a teacher's guide, an
assortment of other honored stories that supplement the DVD and
text, and blog space to continue the conversation beyond the formal
classroom discussion. From time to time, we will update the Website
with new stories to create a living resource for teachers and
students interested in finding fresh material that celebrates the
profession's best work.

Anyone who's ever offered a story up for praise knows that the act
invariably invites criticism. Pulitzer Prizes administrator Sig
Gissler, who founded the Let's Do It Better! workshop, once summed
up the challenge of honoring good work this way: "If you want to
paint a bull's eye on any piece of journalism, just call it
excellent." Prizes do not guarantee perfection. The beauty of the
stories chosen for this book is that each can teach powerfully
through excellence as well as through the occasional flaw. Use the
stories, then, not just to provide guidance on craft but also to
promote critical thinking. That, after all, may be the greatest
skill journalists can learn as they take on what is certainly one of
society's toughest topics, borrowing from the wisdom of those who
did it better.


by Arlene Notoro Morgan Alice Irene Pifer Keith Woods
Copyright © 2006 by Columbia University Press.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Story : Tug of war 3
"Somali girls coming of age are caught in cultural tug of war" 5
The making of Tug of war 17
A primer on Somali culture 23
Ch. 2 Stories : About race series 25
"What is race?" (transcript) 27
"News and race" (transcript) 33
The making of the About race series 41
Ch. 3 Story : Best of friends, worlds apart 51
"Joel Ruiz is black. Achmed Valdes is white. in America they discovered it matters" 53
The making of Best of friends, worlds apart 71
Ch. 4 Story : The family secret 81
"The family secret" (transcript) 83
The making of The family secret 91
Ch. 5 Story : The color line and the bus line 105
"The color line and the bus line" (transcript) 107
The making of The color line and the bus line 119
The making of the American in black and white series 127
Ch. 6 Stories : Broken trust Series
"Land of confusion" (and sidebar story) 133
"Who's going to pay?" (and sidebar stories) 143
The making of the Broken trust series 153
Ch. 7 Story : Asian-American 163
"Asian American" (transcript) 165
The making of Asian-American 175
Ch. 8 Story : Torn from the Land Series 185
"Torn from the land" (and sidebar stories) 187
The making of Torn from the land series 201
Ch. 9 Story : Rim of the new world series 211
"Old South goes with the wind" 213
The making of the Rim of the New world series 225
Ch. 10 Story : The death of LCpl Gutierrez 231
"The death of LCpl Gutierrez" (transcript) 233
The making of The death of LCpl Gutierrez 241
Tips from the Making of The death of LCpl Gutierrez 248
Ch. 11 Stories : Diverse and divided and A tale of two cultures 253
"Diverse and divided : one city, two communities" 255
"A tale of two cultures : Palisades Park grapples with change" 274
The making of Diverse and divided and A tale of two cultures 285
Ch. 12 Story : About race series : The rape of Nanking 295
"The rape of Nanking" (transcript) 297
The making of The rape of Nanking 303
Ch. 13 Story : The other pro soccer 313
"In area's Latino leagues, part of the game is profit, and the best players are paid" 315
The making of The other pro soccer 325
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