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AEJMC Trailblazers of Diversity Interview with Shockley, Linda

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  •  Introduction
  •  How did you become interested in journalism? Role models?:
    0:20 Her interest started around 14 and felt she wanted to pursue that career and read the
    newspaper as early as first grade. At some point she came up to her mom and asked what
    “rape” meant and that’s when she started preventing her from reading the newspaper.
    1:08 When she was 14 Claude Lewis was one of her role models and there was a
    stunning anchor on CBS named Eaddie Huggins. She said to herself, “I can do that.”
    1:52 she got in touch with Claude Lewis after she was told by her counselor that she
    should become a teacher and write in her spare time. Her parents weren’t in support of a
    journalism career because they didn’t think it was financially sustainable. Claude
    suggested she write to an organization in Princeton called The Journalism Fund, which
    was used for information about journalism programs, scholarships, etc.
    3:06 After using the guide we went to University of Bridgeport for a visit and that was it.
    Her mom decided that’s where she needed to be. The cost was about 6,000 at that time.
    She wanted to go to Syracuse but they offered her a scholarship.
    3:43 She graduated 4 years later and interned in Ganet newspapers where she had an
    encounter with Jerry Saass.
    4:09 Her hometown newspaper turned me down for a internship and so someone
    suggested that she call Jerry in Rochester, New York. She called him and he offered her
    one of two internship positions.
    5:26 In the summer of 1975 she worked as an intern in Westchester County, New York.
    She worked for 2 papers (Sleepy Hollow being one of them).
    6:00 Just before graduating she was offered a job covering education for Ganet in
    Ossining, NY.
    6:12 (benefit of working for Ganet as a minority woman)
    6:25 she worked for that company for 12 years, starting in education, but changing
    responsibilities ever couple of years. She used typewriters and other old technologies etc.
    7:25 Covering schools, there was a big effort to desegregate schools so that was eye-
    opening touching a topic that was extremely controversial.
    7:54 She felt a lot of support from her newsroom and the corporation as well. She moved
    into the production area, and eventually became a bureau chief.
    9:15 She also had a very diverse staff. (African Americans, Asian Americans) Eventually
    she became a city editor in a major city. She was even able to attend conventions and
    conferences on the companies dime. That way she could progress and develop different
    resources and mainstreaming techniques to further diversity.
    11:06 Here she adds that she joined the NABJ and other things and served on other
    committees which helped her to get experience that turned her into the journalist she is
    and promote diversity. Ganet really wanted to make an impact on diversity.
    12:55 Another thing she found important was Ganet’s willingness to offer opportunities
    and move people around so they could advance their career regardless of gender or race.
    13:38 Now she feels extremely fortunate to have worked with particularly influential
    people that, at a young age, she didn’t quite appreciate at the time. Those influential
    people, some of them had actually participated in the civil-rights movement.
    14:10 Through the Michelle Clark program, people of different minorities were able to
    get the training they needed to change their career and begin participating as journalists.
    (Lists different notable people that helped do training)
    15:18 At one point she was encouraged to come to a meeting in D.C. where Jay Harris
    was making a presentation saying that media should reflect the ethnic makeup of the
    country. She didn’t understand the implications that presentation and thought carried.
    17:10 (Pivotal time in American History – was there a time when you became aware of
    the need for that diversity in media?)
    17:38 growing up in a community of predominantly African American in New Jersey, we
    always had a feeling of self governance. But we didn’t see that representation in the
    general new media. However there was a thing called Tuesday Magazine that was all
    about African Americans. It was filled with features and things going on in the AA
    community. This went on even until the 1970’s.
    18:58 Being at Ganett with the different conversations about diversity really struck her
    while in high school and into college.
    19:32 She had great admiration for Encore, (1 st AA newsmagazine) and felt she might
    want to work there. She knew there needed to be a voice and felt she could be part of that
    cohort of people providing that voice for these publications.
    (Do you remember any stories or pieces that you produced that touched on diversity in a
    particular way?)
    20:15 Being part of the diversity committee, she remembers a story about children born
    with heart deformities and one of the parents was a teenage girl of color. The editor felt
    like they couldn’t use her because they didn’t want to highlight a girl having a child out
    of wed-lock. Another parent was a latino woman who had a different surname than the
    father and the editor didn’t want to use them either. There was a total lack of
    understanding of cultural practices that had to be addressed.
    22:45 There was another story about illegal immigration. This was in the early 1980’s.
    There was a question about marriage for green cards. Is it a fake marriage? Immigration
    fraud? There was a specific tip that lead to the focus on Haitians, regardless that other
    groups were doing it as well. She gives examples of Irish immigrants doing this as well.
    It’s important to broaden the context and look at the underlying problem instead of the
    specific instance being brought to everyone’s attention.
    24:45 This is even an issue of terminology with “civil rights leader” v. “human rights
    (At the time did you feel that minorities were treated fairly and equally in the
    25:25 In many instances it’s episodic, there are many people that rise to the top but she
    felt that women were marginalized. She sites the lack of personal Pulitzer prize awards
    given to AA women for their work. She conducted a survey and found that these women
    felt they were the “hand-maidens” of the newsroom. They were supposed to go get the
    information and then another person would write the story.
    28:06 She did have a conversation with one woman from the study that said that they
    needed to be willing to put in the extra time. She eventually found an interest in a specific
    place and went there to learn and report about it so that she could gain knowledge and
    expertise in a particular area. Don’t just complain about it, but do something about it.
    Prepare yourself.
    (How did you get involved with Dow Jones?)
    30:20 She came in 1988 but the organization had been established in the 50’s. They
    typically tried to recruit well-rounded people with liberal arts degrees that the
    organization felt could accept a position helping to report for the Washington Post. Later
    in the 1960’s you started to see women and people of color join those programs. She
    gives examples of some of the people to receive awards and internships from the
    32:05 Later Paul Swenson introduced the copy editing program to an ethnically/gender
    diverse group because he felt people from any background could produce the same
    quality of content. Followed by examples of success stories from this program.
    34:25 Paul Swenson decided in the 60’s that these programs for high school journalism
    teachers should include people of color. He went to a HBCU (Savanah St.) to find people
    willing to participate and used a professor and student as the example in some of these
    trainings. That example student later became a participant in the program and a
    successful journalist herself.
    35:28 in ‘68 the Fund started the first Urban Journalism workshop. It was in response to
    President Johnson’s question as to why there continued to be urban disturbances in the
    U.S. One of the things the commission determined was that American was two separate
    societies; one black and one white. The focus on the media talked about the lack of
    representation of African American people, and coverage of issues regarding urban areas.
    They recommended training African American students to become journalists.
    37:15 The result of the workshop was a little group of journalists and if only 10% of the
    participants went on to work in the field they would consider it a success. 30% actually
    did become journalists (examples of those individuals).
    38:25 In 1988 a colleague shared a job opening that he had received about an opening at
    the Dow Jones News Fund. He suggested it to her and she took a chance at it.
    (DJNF had helped numerous people, tell us about the years you were there and how the
    programs developed)
    40:37 The Fund was always looking to progress. She shares the different programs that
    started with focus on high schools.
    41:18 She talks about John Seagenthall and his work to get the movie “Did You Hear
    What I Said?” made and what goes into being a reporter and stories they write.
    42:37 The fund was always looking to see what else they could do to get their message
    out, while still addressing the needs for diversity. She also gives an example of one of
    the classes that was taught by Adams and how that effect is still being felt.
    43:54 In 1990 they started a Reporting Scholarship Program to award a $1000
    scholarship. Eventually that morphed into the Business Reporting Program because they
    wanted to encourage more young journalists of color to pursue becoming business
    journalists. She lists some of the challenges they faced with the program.
    45:15 She talks about the gratifying outcomes of the program, and some examples of
    students that used the scholarship to get herself through school.
    47:01 The current status of the DJNF and their programs that are looking to help all
    students, as well as minorities, become successful journalists.
    48:22 She expresses understanding that you can’t achieve diversity of selection if you
    don’t have diversity in the pool of applicants and that’s why they have focused on
    reaching out to HBCU and developing training programs across the country.
    (Scope of the DJNF and it’s impact)
    50:17 For the editing, reporting, and digital programs the number is around 7500-8000.
    For the high school programs 13000+ up to now. Moving forward we have supported
    other organizations and their programs.
    51:00 A student asked her how she might change her approach to recommending
    journalism as a career based on what’s going on in the industry? She realized that it
    wasn’t a question looking at the technical reaction, but how do you tell people to pursue a
    career in journalism? Especially minorities?
    53:20 Her response to that question.
    54:34 Facing discrimination in a journalism career,
    55:02 Our responsibility in association with discrimination
    55:17 Her hope for the progress journalists can facilitate. And the way we can tell the
    “Truth of our story”
    (Newsrooms use of statistics and the numbers of minorities… Suggestions for media to
    attract the talent that is needed?)
    57:54 She doesn’t feel she has a new solution, cites “Girls who Code” and the work they
    do to promote confidence. “Some things are done by example.” She shares some of those
    leading by example. In recruitment, “we have to go where the people are.”
    (With the rapid changes in media, how does this impact the focus on diversity?)
    1:01:43 She expresses a disappointment in the lack of emphasis by media organizations
    on diversity. She also expresses her feelings that the response of these organizations is a
    short-sighted approach to the issues that they will eventually face in the future.
    1: 03:40 She gives an example of a reporter covering Spanish speaking baseball players
    and his colleagues lack of understanding of the athlete.
    1:05:18 She says we’re not responding to the needs of the people that we represent as
    members of the media, even if immigration stopped today, which it hasn’t.
    1:06:00 “We want to be useful to our population.”
    (Do you feel this is a problem in top management?)
    01:07:18 She expresses a lot of optimism that people might catch on to the need for
    change, but a disappointment that most decisions are being driven, not by the journalists,
    but by investors and advertisers.
    1:08:32 There are people that are using their sphere of influence to address certain issues.
    1:09:23 The pattern of new media is following that of legacy media
    1:10:10 The democratization of media and the place it holds in impacting lives.
    (Role of AEJMC)
    1:11:20 Experience with AEJMC and using some of the papers and research to help high
    school students and other students of journalism. Interaction with different committees
    and interest groups.
    1:13:20 The role of AEJMC in shaping the education of journalists and helping faculty
    to progress.
    1:14:07 An example of a professor requiring their students to go to a specific place to
    find a story to help them become exposed to different ideas and cultures.
    (Final thought)
    1:16:30 Diversity is not an add-on or an afterthought. It’s part of telling the full story
    with all of its detail. 
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Title:AEJMC Trailblazers of Diversity Interview with Shockley, Linda
Description:Linda is managing director of the Dow Jones News Fund, Inc., Princeton, N.J. She joined what was then the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund as assistant to the director in 1988 becoming deputy director in 1992. Her primary responsibilities include planning programming in keeping with the Fund's mission to promote careers in journalism in the digital age. The Fund offers internships in digital media, business reporting and copy editing to college juniors, seniors and graduate students. Linda earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Bridgeport in 1976. She worked an education reporter, news editor, bureau chief, columnist and city editor for more than 12 years at what is now known as The Journal News, covering New York's Rockland and Westchester counties.
Country:United States
CreatorTrent R Boulter
Contributor:Dr. June Nicholson
PublisherDolph Briscoe Center for American History