Journalists wear many hats. We’re watchdogs who promote accountability among the powerful. We’re data miners who provide you with information to help you make important decisions. And, just as importantly, we’re storytellers. We want to lift up the stories of this beautiful, culturally rich and ever-complicated state we call home.
But here’s our problem: In the past year, 53% of the people who we talked to for our stories were white men, many of whom are elected officials. This is an issue across the country in journalism because many of the people who speak to the media regularly — politicians, spokespeople, department heads and others — are white men.
We’ve faced the same issue at Mississippi Today and have fallen short with finding people to talk to who represent all of Mississippi. It’s problematic because if we’re not talking to a variety of people from different races, regions, ages, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds, are we really telling the story of Mississippi?
In May, we started addressing this issue by creating a committee to take an honest look at how we cover stories and how our journalism could better reflect the state. Every reporter on staff went through the stories they wrote the past year to see who they quoted and why. The committee took that information and started brainstorming how we can do a better job of writing for Mississippi’s diverse communities instead of about them. We’re working on several different ideas, but there’s one in particular that we need your help with.
We at Mississippi Today want to expand our network of who we regularly talk to for stories. We want to be in ongoing conversation with people in every corner of the state — especially those of races, genders and socio-economic backgrounds who are typically underrepresented in the news. You deserve to be a part of the newsmaking process. Mississippi needs to hear from you.
We are looking for people who want to be volunteer ambassadors for their communities by letting us know what’s happening on the ground there. If you are interested in learning more about our Mississippi Today Community Ambassador Network, please click here.