J-school students and industry vets tackle the tough questions.

Position:Critical thinking
 
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Q: "Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi recently discussed how the White House reporting staffs tend to be the least racially diverse. What would be your response to his question: 'Does racial background affect how a reporter covers a story?'"

A: Essentially, my answer to this question would be yes. However, it comes with a couple of views. To clarify, I can see the counterargument here. It makes sense that the majority of key leaders that come through the White House are usually white. So therefore, it would make sense that reporters of similar races would indeed be useful here.

When it comes to being capable of establishing relationships with interviewees, especially those that are high-profile, reporters of certain races will draw the shortest straw every time. It is not to say that every high-profile person of interest is racist, but that people of color tend to have a stigma surrounding them before ever introducing themselves. I would be comfortable to say that this affects all races in some way in conjunction with another race.

For example, with me being black, I imagine that I will be welcomed by hesitation when asking a blue-collared professional for an interview in a predominately white community. I wouldn't say that the hesitation would always be black and white but there would be an obvious difference.

Race also comes into play during the interviewing process itself. Once the interview is actually established, I think racial background still has an effect, but with difference. When it comes to the effectiveness of interviewing said person, I believe that racial background would have an influence on what questions are asked.

For example, if I am black and my interviewee is a diplomat from Russia, I would imagine that I would miss certain opportunities for questions because I don't quite understand their culture. I wouldn't be familiar about the political structure that takes place in the Moscow Kremlin if I am interviewing Putin.

On the other hand, if I don't understand the culture or more generally the person, there is less opportunity for biasness. This will bring about more effective reporting.

Marquis Holmes, 28 senior, Kennesaw (Ga.) State University

Holmes has served in various leadership roles in journalism, including editor-in-chief of the Sentinel, KSU's official student newspaper; president of the KSU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; and a board member of the Georgia College Press Association. He is...

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