Hanson’s Folly: There remains a complete absence of diversity among regular News and Tribune columnists.

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Different mix from May 23 – June 16
but no substantive change.

Bill Hanson is the publisher of the Jeffersonville News and Tribune. Recently he lamented injustice and his own “privilege,” asking in essence what’s to be done?

Let’s look at his newspaper’s opinion column scorecard since May 23: Of opinion pieces identified as columns, 25 were authored by white males, 4 by women.

Of the 25 columns authored by white males, 22 came from “older” writers (my guess, above the age of 50), the exception being three written by the newspaper’s reporter Daniel Suddeath. Four columns were authored by women, one of them a black woman (another came from Susan Duncan, the newspaper’s editor).

The black woman is from Georgia and edits a sister CNHI paper there. Probably it was a one-off.

Actually Suddeath’s most recent column takes an oblong glance at the problem, focusing on local elected leaders, but also with this precise comment:

Let’s not pass the buck. We also need more people of color in our newsrooms. In 15 years of full-time journalism, I’ve worked with very few black people. This has an effect on what news is published, regardless of our intentions.

Let’s review. Using opinion columns as a gauge, the News and Tribune scores 86% from white male writers, most of them “older” in age; 14% female writers; and 3% black. There’s the whole range of societal perspectives gifted to us by Bill Hanson.

It’s noteworthy that these percentages haven’t varied an iota since the last time I counted five months ago — except for the black woman from Georgia. There had been no columns by black writers the last time I looked.

ON THE AVENUES: There is a complete absence of diversity among regular News and Tribune columnists.

To answer Hanson’s agonized question — what’s to be done? — perhaps first the publisher needs to spend some time in front of a mirror.

Maybe HIS newspaper would like to provide topical newspaper opinion column debate beyond that of his old white male buddies: a non-Christian religious perspective, a gay (not) straight point of view, and yes, a regularly recurring outlook from a person of color.

The likelihood is that Hanson is terrified of the backlash from his … that’s right, predominantly older, conservative readership.

The answer is staring you in the face, Bill. If you don’t have any intention of embracing it, then at least spare us the crocodile tears, okay?

Diversity isn’t the newspaper’s only problem …

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