Diversity in the Boston Globe

Boston is a two-paper town. Granted there are alot of of local newspapers that cater to specific communities (Banner, JP/Mission Hill Gazette, Dot Reporter, La Semana, etc.) and we also have more than a healthy dose of alternative news and a gazillion blogs. Despite the availabilty of plenty of other sources for news the papers of record in this town are the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe.  I have often explained it like this: The Boston Herald is the paper that a real life Archie Bunker would read religiously, while the Boston Globe is read by those who  may often “summer” on Nantucket. In other words the Herald is the more low brow and the Globe is supposed to be the paper of the thinking man, who is a bit more liberal and progressive. It’s Bud beer in a can versus a white wine spritzer.

When discussing issues of diversity in this city, the Globe has often taken the position as the voice of reason finding a moral high ground to often expose some of the most heinous examples of discrimination and glaring racial disparities in our state.  The Globe has reported on diversity in the Boston Police Department, Boston Fire Department, Boston Public Schools, fields of candidates for political office and more.  Here at the Blackstonian, we have done our own reports, info-graphics and data visualizations on diversity of City of Boston employees and the Boston Police Department.  In our work of “journ-activism” we spend a fair amount of time researching and often we use the Globe as a trusted source.  As we were focusing on diversity we began to notice that the Globe seemed to have some of the same problems we observed in other Boston institutions.

Here we take a look at diversity in the Boston Globe.  Why just single out the Globe? That’s not fair. Well, to be honest we really dont expect much in the way of diversity from the Herald, we assume that their work culture is probably in tune with the sentiments expressed by many of their columnists and echoed by their lovely commenters.  This look at diversity within the Boston Globe is just a quick glance to ask the question in this so-called “New Boston” which is now 55% people of color, where do people of color actually fit in? Are people of color a significant part of the iconic institutions of Boston. By my observations it seems to be that people of color, particularly Black people, are ceremoniously and conveniently kept outside of the loop.

1. Take a look at the Boston Globe’s staff listing
If you look here you will see that department by department, the Globe much like other entities in Boston is not anywhere near being reflective of the population of this city.

2. Another section of the Boston Globe is its “Community Voices; Boston points of view on a variety of topics.”
This section features a number of blogs, some of which are generic blogs based on topics like jobs, business etc. and then there are what I will call individual blogs. The blogs are featured with a photo of the author, many of whom are prominent local figures and experts in their fields such as Carol Rose Executive Director of the ACLU Massachusetts and Prof. James Alan Fox famed criminologist from Northeastern University.  When I originally began looking at this there were 32 individual blogs and only 2 of them were African-Americans. One was Francie Latour, a 12 yr employee of the Globe and the second was Paul Pierce and let’s just say we are sure he wasn’t writing his own pieces.  In preparation for this piece, I noticed an all new group of individual blogs and this time both Francie Latour and Paul Pierce were gone and currently there is only one African-American voice in “Community Voices.”  That blog is titled Expertly Engaged and written by Boston native Angel Babbitt of The Bridal BFF.

3. The Globe also keeps a listing of hundreds of blogs throughout New England called “The New England Blog Network; a collection of your blogs around the region.”
In this listing I see a sore lack of any blogs of note pertaining to issues of or produced by people of color. The listing alone is just another example of how it seems people of color are just omitted altogether, despite the fact that some of the most popular blogs in Boston and New England are owned, operated or geared to people of color. Don’t want to toot our own horn but the Blackstonian is syndicated to outlets like Reuters and Lexis Nexis which I don’t know could be said for most “blogs,” toot, toot.

4. The Boston Globe launched an inventive network of neighborhood specific information feeds called “Your Town; The news, events, and people of your neighborhood”
The Globe created their YourTown sections for each Boston neighborhood, even some suburban locations and college campuses, I remember when it launched how interesting I found it. For my specific community I look at the YourTown Roxbury page and there is local news, twitter feeds from local tweeters (Blackstonian included) and then there are links to outside blogs. They have labeled this section Roxbury Voices and it features 4 local blogs for Roxbury, only one of which is African-American.

ROXBURY VOICES
About Black Boston
Both Ends of Dudley
Historic Boston Inc.
ParkwayBoston

On other neighborhood pages the numbers fluctuate:
“Dorchester Voices” features 15 local blogs, only one of which is obviously African-American, “About Black Boston” (also featured on Roxbury Voices.)
“Mattapan Voices” features 4 local blogs, three of which are geared toward Black people, (Banner, Haitian Reporter, and About Black Boston once again)
“South Boston Voices” features 6 local blogs, most of which does not look reflective to the new population of Southie.
“South End Voices” features 12 local blogs, among them a LGBT publication and another which is Latino

All of this tells me that there is no rhyme or reason, no real care for the pulse of whatever community these pages are supposed to be representative of. Surely there is more than one Black voice in Roxbury and just per chance maybe, just maybe there are dozens of other voices and blogs from Black, Latino, Cape Verdean, Asian and the myriad of cultures and people that make up this so-called “New Boston.”

Overall, all of these observations are just further confirmation of the exclusion and marginalization of non-white people in all levels of this city. From city government to law enforcement to education to media, it seems that no matter what we examine we will find that people of color are still not represented proportionately to their Caucasian counterparts. In spite of the talk of a “New Boston” or “One Boston” or “Boston Strong” what we see time and time again is that these institutions are not reflective of the diversity of the population.

I hope that the Boston Globe can once again find the moral high ground  and quickly rectify its lack of inclusion of diverse voices. In the future we can only hope that they do better and the Blackstonian would be willing to help in that process.

About The Author

Jamarhl Crawford is the Publisher / Editor of the Blackstonian. @jamarhlakauno on twitter.

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  • Julian Smith

    Perhaps you should heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and judge people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. What a racist website you have, focusing only on one race.

  • I think Mr. Crawford has it right. There is a lack of diversity at the Boston Globe. I’ve seen probably over 1/2 workforce there and back in the day I sold many many laptops to some of their top editorial and opinion page writers. I had conversations with these world traveled scribes during the transactions and they were all white guys.

    In the summer of 2011, I was sent an “Insiders” invitation to physically visit the Boston Globe business complex where news properties are managed, produced and printed. ‘Insider’ is a subscriber benefit brand. About 12 random subscribers, including myself met in the lobby at the offices on Morrisey Blvd and were taken on a tour into the complex by presumably a marketing intern. All subscribers to digital get these invitations.

    The tour was great and comprehensive. I took digital shots along the tour. It was great seeing the Globe’s impressive Twitter Tower that hovers above a news room, the Boston.com web site production team was busy at work, robots were picking up huge reels of paper and loading them onto the presses doing the work of many men. One almost ran over me as I crossed the hallway in the press area. They can’t see, they have digital eyes. We followed a larger group of school kids who were on tour before us.

    I bumped into Globe tech writer Hiawatha Bray at the glass wall that separates the printing presses from the public hallway looking down on it and stayed back from the group to hear him explain what we were looking at. But as he was being so kind to tell us more than the tour guide knew to say about the presses, she came over to hurry us away from the windows…to get us caught up with the rest of the group on the tour. I asked her do you that is Hiawatha Bray and she said – no, I don’t know him. Bray is one of my Globe heroes! A few years ago he appeared on the Basic Black tv series on GBH2 to talk about using Twitter and it was the first time I heard of Twitter. Before that I followed his geek reviews and do so to this day.

    Folks, he was the only minority I saw on the whole tour that I remember seeing, except for women and frankly I was shocked this young tour guide didn’t know who Bray was. I would also hope she would recognize Scott Kirshner on sight, but that’s not the point. I think a top level minority like Mr. Bray should be well known by the marketing people who run those tours.

    The highlight of the tour was to sit in the meeting room where division editors meet to explain to Caleb ( the Managing Editor I think) what the front covers for Saturday’s newspaper are going to look like and what’s going on with the Boston.com web site features. The meeting was being held the week of the Red Sox’s Fenway Park 100th Anniversary. There was big celebration going on at Fenway. There was a huge art exhibit installation gracing the Mass College of Art facade and Boston.com had planned to release a special photo series of it. These were the topics the editors were discussing in that meeting.

    We all were given the chance to ask questions to the managing editor once the formal meeting and ended and the division editors left the room. It was fun and I took pictures of all this. The big boss in the room was warm, friendly and gracious. I did not see any people of color sitting among the editors but there were women, probably as many women as there were white men.

    Along the tour,I didn’t see Meghan Irons and Derrick Jackson but then again writers are likely to be in the field or working from home or behind closed doors.

    @BlackBoston
    on twitter

  • Very interesting post. While I live in Quincy, my blog is listed as part of the New England Blog Network and I’m African-American. However, I do agree with what you’re saying and I’m sure that many more people of color could be included in more prominent roles as writers and bloggers in the Boston Globe.

    One issue that I read about recently has a huge impact on the number of people of color working anywhere. Employment and other economic opportunities come about based on personal networks. Here is a link to an article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/black-unemployment-nancy-ditomaso_n_2974805.html

    It’s funny, because I see it on tv shows all the time. Someone is talking to a friend about how they need a job. That friend tells their mother or father or another friend and they are told to just drop by whatever office the next day. They do and they have a job. This is the hidden job market that exists in real life and how most people get jobs.

    But if the people in those organizations with the power to hire have no black friends, these jobs are never given to black people. These job openings may or may not ever be advertised. If they are, they are often really promised to a friend or family member.

    It may not seem like there is any intentional race discrimination in hiring per se, but the result is that a person of color will not in fact have an equal opportunity to find out about those jobs that are casually discussed over dinner.

    Just my two cents.

  • Valerie owen

    I just find the media coverage in Boston disheartening. The papers have their go to people in ” the Community”. I don’t have any idea why these folks are go to people in the first place I guess it is just laziness on the part of the media. The globe relies on many non profit groups for news articles to fill their pages. They all have a narrative that suits their grant applications.i just feel We are being used by a machine. The neighborhoods may look better but the same problems have existed for decades : ( I want to vomit when I read the comments on stories on the herald site. I think these people are trolls that live in their mothers basement. Honestly I believe the herald and globe becoming increasingly irrelevant and they know it.

  • Valerie

    Dude, please click on the link on this website that lists every member of your “team” and think hard about whether you have any right to comment about another organization’s lack of diversity. Yes, the Globe appears to be sort of racist, but why on Earth don’t you have a single woman listed as a staff member? Surely there are some black women who write out there.