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Dori Maynard tweeted this photo of Advocate journalists as she started her training session. Part of her message was to use social media to diversify our list of sources.

A nationally prominent journalist and diversity advocate visited the Victoria Advocate this week.

Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, traveled from the center's headquarters in Oakland, Calif., to provide a training session for our newsroom on improving coverage of diverse communities. The Maynard Institute received grant funding for this training and thought of the Advocate because of our longstanding relationship with the center. We have sent several staffers to the institute's multimedia editing training, and I had the good fortune of attending the Maynard Media Academy in 2006.

Maynard's message to the media is to be more inclusive in its coverage. Our job, after all, is to accurately and fairly report on our communities. We can't do that if we're leaving out a particular race, class, gender, generation or geography.

These five faultlines, as the Maynard Institute teaches them, account for most of the social tension in our country. At our training session, Maynard encouraged us to have conversations with ourselves and with our communities about these faultlines.

Naturally, Trayvon Martin was one topic of conversation, but we also looked closer to home. We talked about our coverage of the city attorney's comment that upset some in the Hispanic community. This led to a conversation about expanding our list of sources and resisting the temptation to go to the same people regularly quoted in the paper.

"We have to be willing to have awkward conversations about race," Maynard said. "These are muscles we haven't flexed."

She encouraged us to listen to other views and to acknowledge that different people see the world differently. We are all shaped by our own individual experiences.

Only by truly listening do journalists learn about others and get a fuller picture of the world. We are committing an injustice if our journalistic conversations are limited to only those in power or only to those in our small circles.

Maynard brought up how bothered she was by a Time magazine cover story on Father's Day. In her article reacting to the piece, she wrote about how disappointed she was that not one African-American father was portrayed in the magazine's gallery of images.

She said the omission called into question the magazine's relevance to those it ignores; its accuracy in portraying fatherhood in America; and its ethics and moral standards. "Not including the wide range of fathers in this country perpetuates false stereotypes and gives readers a misleading sense of how their neighbors live and interact with family," she wrote.

The session left all of us thinking about how we could do more and how important our jobs are to society.


I tweeted this photo of Dori Maynard at the start of our session. Isn't it interesting how different our perspectives are of the same event?