May 24, 2021

ASU’s Kurland: Sports newsrooms also need diverse voices

Kennedy Byrd

Although the pandemic has confined us to experiencing SJI boot camp through our computer screens, our welcome to the week ahead included a personal touch.

Brett Kurland, director of strategic initiatives and sports programs at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, reminded us that “sports rooms need diverse voices,” then shared some startling statistics to back that up.

I was aware that diversity is an issue in sports newsrooms, but these numbers put the size of the problem into perspective. Only about 20 percent of those working on APSE member sports staffs are people of color and just 17.9 percent are women. 

With those statistics came insights and stories on the importance of diversity. In a video, Arizona State football coach Herm Edwards shared his feeling that the media should reflect the diversity on the field and in the locker room, which is currently not the case. Also through video, Arizona State alumnus Master Tesfatsion shared how he and others who look like him are working to change the norm. 

Being a black woman who aspires to work in sports media, seeing the success of Maria Taylor and Malika Andrews is invaluable. Myself and my SJI classmates--eight men and nine women from diverse racial backgrounds--are in position to add our perspectives to the industry. Kurland’s greeting gave us the inspiration to learn from each session this week as we expand our knowledge and prepare for the next step. 

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