One America - News Watch Project

Program: News Watch Project, San Francisco, CA
Contact(s): Fernando Quintero, Director: (415) 398-8224
Purpose: To monitor media coverage of communities of color and gays and lesbians, and advocate for fair and accurate coverage of those communities

Background Program Operations Outcomes

Background

The News Watch Project was conceived in 1994 to promote the goals of Unity '94, the historic gathering of the nation's largest professional organizations representing journalists of color -- Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association. (The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association was soon added as a project partner. Unity 94 has been highlighted by the President's Initiative on Race as a Promising Practice.) The project receives foundation funding and operates as a nonprofit program of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University. The News Watch Project operates on the assumption that news content free of stereotypes, personal and institutional bias, and cultural ignorance greatly improves the quality of journalism. To that end, the project's mission involves a variety of monitoring and outreach activities.

Program Operations

The two primary activities of the News Watch Project are its news monitoring programs and the publication of a quarterly journal, The News Watch Project Journal, and Website. For more than a year, members of the four professional organizations monitored newspapers, magazines and radio and television broadcasts for news coverage about or related to blacks, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans and other ethnic minorities. A News Watch team of journalists, educators and research assistants reviewed and critiqued these pieces, with each of the four professional organizations appointing a blue ribbon advisory board to participate in the review process, which resulted in a report published in 1994. The News Watch Project Journal has served as a forum for in-depth analysis and up-close multicultural insights into the news gathering process. Past journal issues have included a look at the proliferation of blacks in stories, headlines and photographs about the poor. Currently on the Website are critiques of stories that perpetuate stereotypes of people of color. Project staff also provide training to journalists, journalism educators and community activists on news content analysis.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The News Watch Project has been a leading force in bringing together journalists, editors, journalism educators and community activists to talk about diversity in news content as well as in news rooms. On the average, project staff receive about four requests for speakers each month. A listserve has been established to facilitate dialogue among journalists on news coverage issues. A number of colleges and universities, including the University of Columbia, Missouri, have incorporated the project's journal and Website (newswatch.sfsu.edu) into their journalism curricula.



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