The New York Times' "Room for Debate" Continues Snubbing Minority Thinkers The New York Times' "Room for Debate" Continues Snubbing Minority Thinkers
Culture

The New York Times' "Room for Debate" Continues Snubbing Minority Thinkers

by Cord Jefferson

May 18, 2011

We've told you before that the New York Times' "Room for Debate" section, in which thought leaders discuss the news of the day, has a problem when it comes to including diverse voices. Though the topics broached in Room for Debate are frequently near and dear to the hearts of people of all colors, for whatever reason, the Times has on several occasions neglected to include the opinions of even a single minority. We called it the paper's "white people problem"; Nation editor Chris Hayes called it their "non-white people" problem. Regardless of what you call it, it's a problem, and it doesn't appear to be getting any better.

If this post from last month was Exhibit A, consider the image above Exhibit B. In a Room for Debate about the difficulties of a world with 10 billion inhabitants—the majority of whom will live in Africa and Asia—the Times once again highlighted a panel composed solely of white American men. With bureaus all over the world, you'd think the Grey Lady might have been able to tap at least one scholar in Nigeria or China.

We've said this before, but it obviously bears repeating: The Times cannot and should not consider itself the global newspaper of record if it continues to rely on such a narrow demographic for these "Room for Debate" features, which are, after all, supposed to be about diverse perspectives. Also, it would probably be good of the paper's editorial board to remember that when the world has 10 billion people in it, the overwhelming majority of them are not going to be white American men.

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The New York Times' "Room for Debate" Continues Snubbing Minority Thinkers