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Monday, May 19, 2003
Praised be his name
In certain religions, every mention of God is accompanied by a stock mantra of praise. Well, "diversity" is one of the media's gods, so we see a similar phenomenon in discussions about that topic. For instance, in the course of a Boston Globe column condemning the New York Times for its management failures with regard to Jayson Blair, a column which openly accuses the Times of treating Blair specially because of his race, the columnist still feels the need to add:
Let's be clear: Diversity is a crucial and honorable cause. A newspaper that looks like the community it covers is a better instrument of journalism, just as a diverse police department can better understand the people it is sworn to protect.
But is that true? One thing nobody has shown, in all the coverage of Blair's career, is how this desperately-sought after diversity mattered.

The Times wasn't gauche enough to make Blair their "black correspondent," were they? He covered news, same as everyone else. (Well, not exactly the same as everyone else, we hope. I assume the other reporters at least endeavored to report the real news.) Do newspapers generally assign black reporters to write stories about the "black community", Hispanic reporters to write stories about the "Hispanic community," etc.? I sincerely hope not. Nothing in the Times' long mea culpa, in which they gave examples of Blair's malfeasance, indicated in any way that Blair's reporting involved race in any special way. So what was this vaunted "diversity" good for? How did he help make the TImes "a better instrument of journalism"? (Or, rather, how would he have, if he had been honest?) Isn't the real answer that Blair was there to fill employment quotas?

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