Commitment to Diversity
Based on the 2020 U.S. Census, Bigfork, Montana’s population is listed at 5,118 with 92.2 percent of people reporting their ethnicity as white. The Bigfork School District embodies these statistics, and as such our journalism program often finds it difficult to recruit diverse reporters. This often means that during story meetings I need to encourage our staff to report on issues they may not consider based on their backgrounds.
Sophomore year one of our staff members was a young woman with a speech disability. She was unable to communicate verbally, so during her time on our staff we switched our story meetings from fully verbal to include writing our pitches on the whiteboard. This allowed for her to communicate her ideas to us and for the group to be able to work with her on her pieces. We also utilize Google Suite including a shared drive for a materials.
Some of my favorite work I have been able to do has been for Bigfork Blaze, our school’s Special Olympics team. Not only is it extremely rewarding, but they are a group not frequently featured in our school. The attention we bring to clubs like theirs normalizes giving attention to otherwise marginalized groups in our community.
A story meeting discussing a news article about the dress code. In the past, we have had issues interviewing only one side, creating bias. In story meetings we now discuss how to make controversial articles fair, and who can be used as reliable sources.
Due to accessibility issues, last year we switched to WordPress from Weebly. I was in charge of the website design.
Weebly unfortunately did not provide the alternate viewing and hearing options that WordPress does. Though we were not aware of any current deaf or blind readers, we decided nonetheless to provide a platform on which our media was accessible to all our followers.