Our commitment to diversity
Especially with the momentum surrounding diversity in 2021, I wanted to make sure we were being as inclusive as possible. For this reason, we once again reiterated in our policy that guest columnists are always welcome to share their thoughts and opinions on the news. We were happy to receive a response from the community and ran several guest opinions this year.
Ensuring a diversity of perspective
A problem that we consistently run into every year is ensuring diversity of perspective in the paper. The Spoke is a family which is something we admire about our staff, but that often means we know the same groups of people leading to people interviewing the same students over and over again. In order to combat this, we continued to maintain our digitized banned list. This list keeps track of every time a student’s name appears in the paper, once they have been covered 3 times, they are banned unless in the case of exceptional circumstances.
In addition to the banned list, we implemented one other new practice this year. We asked each reporter to list the 5 people they talk to the most as well as their favorite teacher. We then told them they were not allowed to interview the people they listed. While it may seem somewhat odd, this practice removed the temptation of interviewing friends and unintentionally creating a conflict of interest altogether.
Though this practice was meant to serve as a lesson to new reporters, in order to set an example, the editors follow the same practice as well.
Instilling the value of open discussion
AP style is constantly changing. While the Spoke strives to follow AP style most of the time, sometimes the Spoke will choose to adopt its own policy following an editorial board discussion in order to be as inclusive as possible. Beginning from my sophomore year we have had these kinds of discussions every year. Some of our notable changes being the decision to remove “lady pioneers' ' from our language, moving from using LGBT to LGBTQ+ in order to be more inclusive, and many more changes like those. We also continually share AP-style topical guides and update our staff on any relevant changes in real-time. In order to make sure every reporter is in the loop, we created an AP style channel in our slack workspace so as we share updates we are also creating a real-time guide that we will be able to compile into a document at the end of the year.
Creating a more diverse staff
Cartoon courtesy Sophia Pan, Managing Editor
The Spoke has always been an extremely selective publication that creates high-quality journalism. However, often certain academic and writing requirements create a staff with a low amount of diversity. For this reason, for the first time in Spoke's history, we waived our application and asked only that potential staff reporters fill out a statement of interest. While this created the biggest staff we’ve ever had which posed some difficulties, it also brought a new and extremely diverse perspective to the publication.
In the past, certain stories have only been published in the print publication in order to give subscribers who support the publication financially more content. However, in order to make the Spoke accessible to the entire community, we have chosen to run every issue of the Spoke online as well as in print and offered to mail the publication to interviewees free of charge in order to remove any financial limitations in this difficult year.