In an “Ask the Post” chat session yesterday, Washington Post managing editors Liz Spayd and Raju Narisetti were asked if the paper is committed to ideological diversity in its newsroom. The answer? Nope!
Dunn Loring, Va.: In the past, you have been vocal about the need for more diversity at the Post. However, the Post’s efforts have focused solely on gender and race. Will the Post ever take steps to increase the ideological viewpoints held by its reporters or will it continue to limit its recruitment to Salon, the New Republic and other liberal media outlets?
Liz Spayd and Raju Narisetti: Well, first off, you’re asking questions of two firsts here at The Post. Raju is the first Asian American to be an Managing Editor, and I, Liz, am the first woman.
On diversity of views, that’s never been a litmus test for hiring and we strive every day to ensure our reporting is as fair and objective as possible. We get criticism from both the left and right, so that’s some measure of balance.
On the editorial and opinion pages, we seek a diversity of views and have columnists from both sides of the spectrum.
The editors didn’t actually answer the question. Seeking a diversity of views on the opinion pages is nice, but it still leaves a one-sided newsroom.
Even The Washington Post’s ombudsman acknowledged that the paper has a diversity problem:
[S]ome of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.
Are there ways to tackle this? More conservatives in newsrooms and rigorous editing would be two. The first is not easy: Editors hire not on the basis of beliefs but on talent in reporting, photography and editing, and hiring is at a standstill because of the economy. But newspapers have hired more minorities and women, so it can be done.
So, does the Post have a plan to hire more reporters who ideologically reflect America, rather than Manhattan? At least for now, it looks like the answer is no.