Since 2017, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Acel Moore Journalism Workshop’s goal was “to introduce Philadelphia-area high school students to the fields of print, digital, and visual journalism.” This year, it has a new requirement: All applicants must “self identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and/or more than two races.”
This comes as companies including The Philadelphia Inquirer are expanding equity initiatives in the hopes that it will promote diversity. And as professional sports teams, universities, and hospitals across the country are growing their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.
In addition to teaching students about the different types of journalism, the program also awards $1,000 scholarships to the top students who intend to study journalism in college.
The Inquirer gave no explanation for why they decided to change the requirement to exclude white applicants and it doesn’t seem like they understand how discriminatory this is. Isn’t mandating that you must be of a certain race as an application requirement the definition of racism? And the antithesis of what we fought to abolish during the entire civil rights movement?
What the Inquirer did walks in tandem with what woke companies are doing with DEI. Just this week, the National Hockey League (NHL) received harsh backlash after posting information on LinkedIn about an event in Florida called “Pathway to Hockey Summit” to help recruit “diverse jobs seekers who are pursuing careers in hockey.” The event excluded white men, but allowed every other race and gender to participate.
Florida’s Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, was quick to criticize the event and the NHL eventually revised their requirements allowing anyone over eighteen to attend. In a statement NHL said, “the original wording of the LinkedIn post associated with the event was not accurate.” Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’s press secretary also wrote in a statement, “Discrimination of any sort is not welcome in the state of Florida, and we do not abide by the woke notion that discrimination should be overlooked if applied in a politically popular manner or against a politically unpopular demographic.”
Proponents of expansive DEI like our universities argue these initiatives are needed to create a welcoming environment for everyone. The University of Michigan says its “dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.” This is backwards thinking and is the same logic The Philadelphia Inquirer used when they decided to exclude white students from the Acel Moore Journalism Workshop.
The Inquirer’s exclusionary policy does the students participating a disservice. Having all students at the workshop be high schoolers of color will make the liberals at the Inquirer feel good about themselves and (by their standard) it’ll look good for the photo-ops. But as a white high schooler who attended the Acel Moore Journalism Workshop last year, I benefited from working with other students who came from all types of backgrounds.
I saw that even though we live in the same area we still have differences in the way we grew up, like our traditions and experiences, that shaped our viewpoints and things we valued. The Inquirer doesn’t understand diversity is more than the color of your skin. The diversity of thought and experience is equally important and is what made the stories my peers and I produced during the workshop great.
Diversity is what makes America special. But the politicization of equity and the virtue signaling coming from our once respected organizations is turning the meaning of diversity on its head and actually discriminating against people.
What the Inquirer is doing speaks volumes to the type of journalistic organization they claim to be. By definition, journalists are supposed to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best decisions about their communities and lives. By excluding white high schoolers from the workshop because of their race, they are teaching future journalists that journalism isn’t about unbiased reporting for the community. If they believed it was, they’d allow everyone in the community to participate.
Meghan Dougherty is a senior at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School and past Acel Moore Journalism Workshop student