COLUMN: Importance of Minority Representation in Media

I was recently presented with the information that, to date, there are no Black centered West Virginia news or media publications, one Black editor for a mainstream WV news publication, and no Black reporters on any West Virginian print media payroll.

The information was revealed via a Twitter post by poet and folk reporter Crystal Good.

“Please, West Virginia correct me if I am wrong. To date: ZERO Black centered West Virginia news/media publications. To date: One Black editor for a mainstream WV news pub. To date: ZERO Black reporters on anyone West Virginia’s print media payroll,” the tweet states.

This is alarming.

As a journalist, I have learned that “the media” is responsible for reporting and informing the public about the happenings of the world around them and the way their neighbors feel about those happenings. However, without Black representation behind the scenes, these duties cannot be upheld properly – and possibly ethically as well.

As a Black journalist, I understand the importance of diversity in the media. It isn’t difficult to grasp. Diversity is essential in any workplace to ensure that everyone is respected, has their needs met, and has a voice. The media, especially, NEEDS diversity. It is our livelihood to tell stories. If the stories that we decide to tell are chosen by a team lacking diversity, minority groups may not be given the platform that they deserve.

As a Black journalist and news editor who was born and raised in rural West Virginia, I promise there are minorities that need their stories told in this state. This is not exclusive to the Black community, but it seems there is a need for West Virginian Black voices to be heard and seen in our media. People of color are often erased from the Appalachian narrative, and I believe there needs to be an initiative to amplify the voices that have been silenced for so long. This starts in the newsroom. We can, and we will, do better.

Isabella Robinson can be contacted at [email protected]