The root of this project was in the 1980s when minority journalism groups published diversity guides. Perhaps the first was published in California by the Asian American Journalists Association.
The Native American Journalists Association published “100 Questions, 500 Nations: A Guide to Native America.”
In the late 1980s, Joe Grimm was ombudsman at the Detroit Free Press, fielding questions and complaints from readers. There were frequent calls about coverage of the Middle East. After a false start and with some funding from Knight Ridder that led to “100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans.” On Sept. 12, 2001, it was posted online and generated hundreds of thousands of hits.
Technological disruption meant that book self-publishing became easier and newspaper publishing became harder.
Over time, these changes have also meant that news outlets are doing less about diversity.
Grimm moved to the Michigan State University School of Journalism in 2008. In 2012, with the encouragement and help of Read the Spirit and Front Edge Publishing, a class published a book on bullying. In 2013, this series began. The first guide was about Indians, some of whom have lived in the United States for generations and some of whom were being recruited to do programming in Michigan. The second guide, encouraged by the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, was about Americans, who were unfamiliar to a rising number of international students.
Journalism schools are willing and equipped to do some of the diversity work that mainstream media have left behind.
We plan four guides for 2016, including African Americans, American Jews, immigrants to the United States and transgender people.