Staff editorial: Embracing diversity, in journalism and beyond

By Princeton Summer Journal staff

Journalism in general is a struggling enterprise, one which can unfortunately deter plenty of hopefuls. Historically popular media outlets have seen a steep decline in their finances, and many American public schools do not provide students with a course in journalism or media. The declining popularity of traditional journalism among the millennial generation may spell doom for the industry. However, there is potential for aspiring young writers.

We are typically surrounded by people who have similar backgrounds, but entering our main classroom on the first day of the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program, we began to expand our horizons. After each person stood up and introduced themselves, we felt intimidated by unfamiliar faces. But we were also being exposed to what we desire to have in a newsroom: diversity. Exploring the depths of diversity is one of the missions of SJP and we immediately got a glimpse into each other’s personal lives. Our different family ethics, religion, gender, race, ethnicity, and political affiliations informed our arguments. Still, we were able to respectfully agree or disagree when explaining our thinking. And we have learned that our unique identities will be assets if we pursue a journalism career.

For many SJP students, a disadvantaged socioeconomic status has prevented us from fully realizing our journalistic potential. In many ways, SJP continues where our schools leave off. We have spent the past 10 days immersed in an intensive environment that hones our diverse talents. Through workshops ranging from sports to photojournalism to editing – taught by real journalists – we grasped a greater understanding of the process. Being pushed to approach and interview strangers on the streets of Princeton and New York City, for instance, forced us to become real journalists in that moment. Applying our expanded knowledge of journalism to real life reporting is perhaps the most memorable educational experience that we take away from SJP. Moving forward with the new experiences we gained at SJP, we can better apprehend and spread the truth.

We came together not knowing the community and family we would create. Today we leave knowing it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work alongside such intelligent future advocates for those whose perspectives are routinely underrepresented.

While one of the main focuses of SJP is to inspire young writers to pursue a career in journalism, it goes beyond that goal. It is about learning from each other and reaching past the boundaries we thought disadvantaged us. On August 4, we arrived as strangers. On August 14, we return to our daily lives remembering the family we have built. Working on a schedule from 7am to 11pm, sometimes even later, we did it all, and we did it together.

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