AEJMC Trailblazers of Diversity – Reginald Stuart

AEJMC Trailblazers of Diversity in Journalism Education

Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

School of Journalism

University of Texas at Austin

The purpose of this index is to mark the themes that have emerged in the interviews conducted so far. From these indexes we will develop an extensive guide of the areas to be covered in the interviewer’s story of the interview subject – and where the viewer/listener can find them.
We ask you watch the interview and give descriptions about what the interview has to say about the issues listed here. We ask you to note any NEW topics that you find in the interview – issues that are not included in this index. YOU MUST INCLUDE COUNTER OR TIMES. At the end of the index you will find a section for your comments of the interviewer in general, the interviewer and your suggestions for improvements in further interviews. We also ask you to give us your opinion on whether this interview is a good subject to be contacted for the second-level interviews.
Lastly, we appreciate feedback on this index so that we can revise future forms.

Interview Subject: Reginald Stuart
Interviewer: Martin do Nascimento
Interview date: 3/30/2014
Number of Recorded Segments: 1
Interview length: 01:13:51
Language: English
Reviewer: Carlos Morales
Date of review for index: 7/1/2014

Table of Contents:
Early Experiences in Journalism (3-7)
Diversity in the Newsroom (7-11)
Journalism education (11-14)
The News Industry Today (14-15)

0:00 – 3:15 Introduction and preamble
Early experiences in journalism
3:16 Stuart’s first experience with journalism dates back to his childhood. He had
3:22 He had a newspaper when he was a kid, around 10-12-years-old.

3:30 The major daily newspaper in his hometown of Nashville did a story about two competing neighborhood editors, Stuart and a kid from down the street.

3:57 When they interviewed Stuart for the article they asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He told them that he wanted to own the paper – their paper.

4:05 Stuart says they were amused.

4:16 When he went to college he majored in sociology.

4:24 After he graduated he went looking for a job and decided not to go into sociology. He went by the newspaper and applied for a job.

4:33 In those days, Stuart says, it’s a lot easier than it is today.

4:42 They told Stuart that there wasn’t an immediate job opening but he could apply and they’d let him know when positions became available.

4:48 The newspaper remembered Stuart from the childhood story that was written about him.

4:54 They said, “He’s the kid that wanted to buy the paper, right?” and hired him.

4:58 The newspaper called Stuart about a week before graduating college and offered him a job.

5:06 The position was a starting reporter.

5:23 The managing editor – although Stuart had wanted to take the summer off before working – said he needed Stuart to beging work the Monday after graduation.

5:28 He told Stuart that if he couldn’t take it the job would be gone. Stuart took the offer.

5:36 “I went to work like a week after I graduated and I haven’t stopped work since and that was more than 40 years ago.”

5:47 Stuart says that he loves what newspaper do now and he loved what they did then as a child.

6:10 Stuart grew up in a “city where news is very important to all people”

6:19 There were weekly papers, there were the two major daily papers. Those weren’t papers for kids, though, Stuart says.

6:27 Stuart says that he wanted to have a paper not because the other papers were for adults, but because he wanted to be involved in “this enterprise of gathering information.”

6:50 The idea, Stuart says, was to be the first to know about things in his neighborhood.

6:57 The inspiration, Stuart says, was the desire to get the news first and disseminate it.

7:07 Stuart shortly realized that despite how good the local papers were, there was still news that they couldn’t cover.

7:17 They didn’t have enough people, time, or they just didn’t know about things.

7:25 Stuart wrote about the things he thought should be in the paper.

7:37 He had news stories in it, he had a friend make cartoons for the editorial page, entertainment news, a gossip column, a music column – it was hyper-local news, focusing on his street.

8:13 Stuart did that for 3 years and it evolved into a really good following.

8:23 Stuart’s rival editor, who lived at the end of the street, took care of his end of the neighborhood.

8:30 “It was growing on an innate feeling that there’s more news out there and I want to tell about it.”

8:45 Stuart gives an example of the kind of stories he’d write. The hospital in his neighborhood was going to expand and build a new wing – he wrote about that.

8:51 There were back-to-school stories.

9:01 He had a fire-prevention week story.

9:06 It was “nice stuff”, Stuart says, that he found interesting as a young person.

9:37 His early endeavor was “ a reflection of what was going on around the neighborhood – it was important.”

9:45 Stuart called it “The Neighborhood Times”.

9:50 He named nicknamed the paper “TNT” – after the explosive material, a reference to the Cold War Era, Stuart says.

10:26 Stuart wrote some of the stories, but he also relied on his neighborhood for help. Older people in the area helped Stuart with cooking columns or secretarial tips columns and kids his age wrote the gossip and music column.

11:10 Whenever these people didn’t have time to write, Stuart would write it.

11:18 He would then type it up on stencils and would have it printed at printing department at the hospital, who Stuart had befriended.

11:33 He would charge Stuart a dollar or so for 100 sheets of paper

11:38 Stuart would write for a couple days, sell ads for a couple days, then print on a Thursday or Friday and distribute the paper.

11:50 Stuart says that at some point his paper gained popularity and he reached “national circulation”

11:59 “National circulation” included all of Stuart’s relatives across the country.

12:43 Stuart says his innate feeling to cover and disseminate the news was because he “must’ve been nosey”

12:47 “I liked reading the paper…I just thought that newspapers were cool because they talked about stuff and I liked to talk about stuff.”

13:10 Stuart read many newspapers growing up, including The National Tennessean, The Banner, Life Magazine.

13:40 Stuart got these at the library. He was a paperboy and “threw” the Banner so he kept a copy for himself.

14:04 Stuart goes on to list several more newspapers and magazines that he read and that were available to him.

14:48 The main thing, Stuart says, is that they all had something new and different.

15:14 There wasn’t a particular theme or topic that Stuart enjoyed the most. He “liked it all”

15:30 A lot of things, Stuart says, you learned as you went. “You started off saying I want to know what’s in there, and then you start picking and choosing.”

15:46 For Stuart some of his disinterests included sports. He liked science, and politics. He wasn’t a big culinary enthusiast, he adds.

16:25 There were things that were important, Stuart says, that he may not have had an interest in, but others did.

16:42 Stuart says he learned a lot about the importance of the skillsets that were described in his columns, such as cooking and typing.

17:22 Stuart’s mother was a “big reader”, his dad read Western fiction and the paper. But they weren’t “consumed with reading” – it was jut a part of their routine.

17:56 Radio news was marginal in those days, Stuart says.

18:07 Television was a half hour a day. No noontime newscast, or evening news. Stuart said he had 3 stations: NBC, ABC, CBS.

18:30 Stuart says that the 30-minute newscast only allowed for so much. The news generally included sports, weather, and regular news.

18:46 Eventually, Stuart says, more and more stations began having newscasts, what they called “rip and read”

18:55 Stuart says they were called this because on the FCC mandates you have 5 minutes of news every hour if you were a certain category of station.

19:05 According to Stuart, everyone had news. They might be “ripping and reading” Stuart says, but they had news.

19:14 That’s important, he continues, because you grew up in an environment of being informed.

19:41 Stuart says you couldn’t listen to one station all day long. “You had to get some information on which to make decisions about things. And that was cool.”

20:04 Stuart says that he learned that “gossip is valuable”

20:15 “Even the smallest information you have – that’s a story.

20:25 You also learn, Stuart adds, that as a newspaper editor or publisher you have a lot of power, you have a lot of responsibility.

20:52 In TV you learn the same thing, Stuart said.

20:54 “You’re reaching thousands of people at one time. It’s a very delicate and fragile responsibility.”

21:48 Stuart says that when you have only a certain number of people on the staff you can’t cover everything.

22:24 A lot of publications couldn’t cover everything because they didn’t have the manpower, Stuart says.

22:33 Another reason is that as a news organization you make a judgment about what’s important and what needs covering.

22:42 A lot of times you make a judgment that reflects your history, what your interests are, etc.

23:05 This is why, Stuart says, that broadening the ranks of newsmakers became so important.

23:15 News organizations soon realized that they weren’t covering the whole community; they weren’t covering people of color, they weren’t covering poor people, women, etc.

23:28 As these organizations open their mind to what’s important, Stuart says, then you’ll start seeing things that weren’t being covered.

24:30 Stuart says he was too young to recognize that they local papers weren’t covering these issues.

24:40 There were a lot of social changes between when Stuart was a kid and when he began working.

24:52 It’s then, he says, that he realized what the issues were

25:13 Stuart offers an example of how he understood news as a kid and as an adult

25:17 Nashville had a lot of colleges and the paper had a “vibrant” sports section

25:43 You realized after a while, Stuart says, that some of the black colleges were only getting a couple paragraphs worth of coverage – even in their winning season.

26:05 Clip abruptly cuts

26:33 Stuart says that American Airlines – the major airline servicing Nashville – had a strike coming up. This kept him busy
26:44 One time, he went to the airport and noticed a factory that was making the wings for what was then a type of plane, the jumbo jet.

27:14 This inspired Stuart and he went back to the paper saying that he’s found his beat: “a combination of transportation and aviation”

27:29 Although reluctant at first, the paper allowed Stuart to work this beat. He ended up writing at least 2 front-page articles a week for the next several months.

27:50 Stuart says he had to learn how to write newspaper style first and had to find his niche. “You had to figure out a niche, this is yours, aviation and transportation were mine.”

28:13 “Those little things,” Stuart adds, “were important, teach-ful moments that helped me get focused as a journalist.”’

Diversity in the Newsroom

28:53 Stuart was the first full-time black news reporter. There was a part-time black religion writer and one full-time black person running the photo lab.

29:12 “It was a diverse as you were going to get in 1968”

29:33 Stuart says there weren’t any problems that came up in the newspaper

29:38 The problems that Stuart had were “external.”

29:47 Stuart had a problem with the police department. He realized that the speech they used when talking over the radio was antiquated, “they were stuck in the 50s and before.

30:29 Stuart went to the Police chief and asked them if they still used the term “colored.”

30:40 By then, Stuart adds, they were being called “negroes.”

30:50 The police chief was hesitant to believe Stuart, asking if he had research to back up the claim that they didn’t want to be called “colored.” So Stuart started a survey.

31:09 Stuart then did a survey, asking members of city council and civic leaders of the black neighborhood.

31:18 He took the survey back to the chief. But Stuart doesn’t think it every changed anything.

31:35 Stuart says that the paper was very supportive.

31:38 What the paper wanted, Stuart said, was people – regardless of sex or color – who were in to journalism, who had spark, who could go out and do things.

32:06 “What I also learned was that if they gave anybody hell, they gave everybody hell.”

32:26 It didn’t matter who you were, Stuart said. “If your stuff was bad, your stuff was bad”

32:32 When Stuart realized that the structure of checks and balances on people wasn’t limited to race or sex, he saw that the newspaper had a high standard of productivity and expectation.

32:57 The newspapers commitment to journalism was greater than any discriminatory practices.

33:16 Stuart watched a couple people who got one-day dismissals because they weren’t reporting well.

33:46 “It wasn’t a double standard or triple standard or a black standard or a white standard – it was a standard for journalism and you had to be good at it.”

New York Times?

35:44 At the times, Stuart says, there was a high standard as well. What you didn’t know you had to learn fast

36:21 They were a superbly edited newspaper, Stuart adds. “If you work with them, they worked with you.”

36:57 The level of diversity at the Times was about the same as the Tennessean

36:59 Stuart says this is because newspapers were two mindsets 1) they were going to find journalists or 2) they were going to find untrained people and teach them journalism skills.

37:36 No one is really qualified, Stuart said, adding, “the question is are you ready for the challenge?”

37:46 Stuart says that news organizations were going to have much more luck in finding a successful reporter if they looked for spark and drive – not color or sex.

38:09 The Times was looking for people ready for the challenge.

39:08 Stuart, however, does say that there were plenty of times when diversity needed to be addressed in the newsroom.

39:13 There were two lawsuits against the New York Times, Stuart says, both about hiring women and minorities.

39:22 Both lawsuits looked at the number of people being hired and salary discrepancy.

39:36 “They were at points in time for the Times that you could use that boost of attention to keep doing progressive things – not because it was the law, but because it was the right thing to do.”

40:14 You don’t find many people saying that today, Stuart says.

40:28 When Stuart got in the business he says there was a passion to change things.

41:01 Stuart says that could be said of all the places he worked. “In that era it was the time to do the right thing.”

41:29 You had degrees of moving forward

41:41 You could identify the different paper’s ideologies, Stuart says, by reading them for a couple weeks. What are they covering? What are the editorials saying? What kind of columnists do they have?

42:25 Stuart says that to “you wanted to make sure you had a complete report” when reporting.

42:36 His report would be diverse when it needed to be. He didn’t ignore anything.

42:50 “You got to remember there’s a lot of discrimination that’s active and there’s discrimination that’s passive.”

42:55 He says that a lot of discrimination that was before his generation was passive.

43:02 A lot of discrimination was active, too. Stuart says that you could find a lot of newspapers – primarily in the south – that actively didn’t cover.

42:19 “That was a reflection of who they were as an institution”, Stuart says.

42:25 Stuart saw influencing diversity as part of his job. “My job was not to go out and make sure the race news got covered, my job was to make sure that the news we covered was inclusive.”

43:38 Stuart says that it’s a sematic difference, but that it’s a very important one.

43:41 There are some things, Stuart says, that he would find that he would want to be covered that wouldn’t be normally.

43:55 Stuart gives example

43:55 Stuart says that if he’s writing a story about the demise of the old military-related retiree clubs, historically you would write about the white club. But he says he would find the Black club and include the two American Legion Clubs together.

44:23 It’s a subtle shift in what you’re doing, Stuart says, but you’re still writing about the same topic.

44:46 Across the South, Stuart says that there were a couple of teacher associations. There was the white one and there was the black one.

45:12 De-segregation happens and these two organizations dissolve and unite into one. But the merger occurred differently on both sides, Stuart says.

45:25 In some of them “all the black structure would disappear” and blacks would just be members they wouldn’t be leaders.

45:35 In others you would find that blacks were merging as leaders or in some higher capacity.

45:41 In writing about this simulation, Stuart says, you would focus on the shortcomings of the mergers, e.g. people aren’t paying dues. Race, Stuart says, adds “a whole new layer of discussion.”

Journalism education

47:20 Stuart first got started with journalism education in the 1970s. At this time, he says, there was still an effort to accelerate the pace at which they were bringing people of color into the newsrooms.

47:39 Several programs emerged out of these efforts. One was by the Ford Foundation out of Cornell University in New York. It eventually moved to UC Berkley.

47:55 It was called the Summer Program for Minorities in Journalism

47:57 Stuart says you would recruit about 15-20 college graduates who wanted to be journalists and you would bring professionals in to mentor them about 6 days a week, 8 hours a day.

48:18 The idea was to teach the students in about 8-10 weeks what they would normally learn in 1 year in a newsroom.

48:25 This is where Stuart got started in journalism education.

48:46 By this point, Stuart had 12 years experience in journalism.

49:07 The mentors would teach how to structure a story, how to report it, what the ups and downs are of doing so, ethics, writing style, etc.

50:01 These students, Stuart said, needed to figure out what a reporter does. Which he says is to find people, go to situations, and get them to talk. The second part is to write it.

50:42 Nowadays, he adds, you find that too many reporters – particularly television reporters – you find that you’re told what a source says, but never hear from them.

50:56 “Your job, truthfully, is to facilitate people telling the story.”

51:19 You need to tell their story effectively, coherently – in either long form or briefly. Stuart says that a lot of what the students wanted to know is how to do that.

51:30 “You got to ask questions”

52:39 Stuart says that the program taught these students how to report and in the process of good reporting “the adjectives will provide themselves”

53:24 We’d also teach them to learn that “they’re not important, the story is”

54:18 It’s the philosophy of being inclusive. You can’t just say you’re looking for the truth, Stuart says, you need to be looking for the facts – the truth will emerge.

55:50 Stuart says that the questions that the program’s students asked (about diversity) were generally expected.

55:55 “’I’m going into an all-white newsroom. What do I do?’ and my answer is pretty stupid, ‘be a reporter.’”

56:02 Stuart says he doesn’t want to inject more skepticism, or self-intimidation into your thinking before you get there.
56:20 If you’re not productive, if you’re not good, they’re going to target you, Stuart says.

56:25 Stuart says that thinking that they’re picking on you because you’re black is the wrong thinking.

56:35 He says that’s because your work may be sloppy. “There’s a lot of reasons they don’t like you and race is not the main one.”

56:50 Stuart says he’s worked with people who were racists.

57:14 Stuart says that sometimes when you can overcome the other reasons that they’re picking on you, the race factor will disappear.

57:41 “You can’t play the race card over and over again when you’re not producing up to speed, when you’re not carrying your part of the load.”

59:19 Stuart says that the main thing you need to understand about teaching journalism is that the people you’re teaching aren’t dumb just because they don’t know what you know.

59:32 By the same token, Stuart says, you need to understand that people that have been here longer than you know more.

59:46 Stuart says he was interviewing a student who wanted to be a sports writer. He gave him a name-recognition quiz, tailored for sports. The student failed it.

1:00:14 “That doesn’t mean he’s dumb, that doesn’t mean he’s stupid – it does mean he’s not qualified, but he’s ready for the challenge.”

1:00:29 Stuart says that if he spends time working with this student on his knowledge gap then he’ll be ready in a couple years.

1:01:06 “So when you’re teaching you have to understand that you’re going to wind up with a mixture of people who just really are late. There’s lots that they don’t have.”

1:01:26 If you can find someone who wants to learn, then share your knowledge with them, Stuart says.

1:02:14 Stuart tells an anecdote of a graduate student.

1:02:25 This student had to take a math class. And she said in the middle of class, “I’m not here to learn math, I’m here to cover politics and government.”
1:02:47 Stuart says she missed the whole point. “Wherever you are – politics, entertainment, science, health – it’s money.”

1:03:19 Stuart says that this student was too narrow in her thinking of what a journalist does.

1:03:40 Stuart says that he meets a lot of people in college that want to be entertainment writers.

1:04:00 But, Stuart says, what happens if they star gets in trouble? You need to know how to write a court story, follow their arrest procedure, etc.

1:04:41 “Will you lose the story once it goes to page 1?”

1:05:52 “It’s so important to write about the whole story. We’re talking about inclusiveness – that’s the whole story.”

(switching SD cards)

The News Industry Today

1:07:06 Stuart says that overall the role of diversity in newsrooms has cooled off. The economy, Stuart adds, has also contributed to this

1:07:26 The enthusiasm of journalism is not present today, Stuart says.

1:07:40 People still say the right thing, but we don’t see them doing the right thing, Stuart says.

1:07:55 In that respect, Stuart says, diversity may be important, but how important it is to the people has come down a few notches.

1:08:09 There’s no one making noise about it, Stuart says.

1:08:18 The consequence of this is that the newsrooms will regress to where they were years ago.

1:08:30 Newsrooms that were once making progress in bringing diversity to their ranks and no longer doing that.

1:08:49 You don’t want this to be a fluke decade or era, Stuart says, in regards to diversity efforts, but that’s what it’s become.

1:09:52 Media owners still have a lot of money left, Stuart says, and they need to invest in people of color.

1:10:06 There are a lot more companies now moving online and social media, Stuart says. And he hasn’t seen a serious effort there to bring emerging people of color into these areas

1:10:44 “The same effort you had for print and broadcast 30 years ago, 40 years ago, you need to have that same presence today for emerging media – and I don’t see it.”

1:11:43 Stuart says that we need to be straightforward in asking for more people of color.

1:12:01 We want a broad array of meaningful programing aimed at a broad audience.

1:12:10 If we don’t get the consumer giving us feedback, Stuart says, then the people “running it” don’t realize that they’re missing anything.

1:12:32 If you hear more people complaining, then you’re going to hear it, Stuart says.

1:13:06 The reader, the public may need to wake up, Stuart says, and say something and the newsrooms will respond and “get their act together”

1:13:15 Stuart says that the news industry is unfortunately “trailing off” in that area.

AEJMC Trailblazers of Diversity

Print friendly Print friendly

About kysh