Duy Linh Tu is a professor of journalism at Columbia University and a leading multimedia journalist and video storyteller. Last week, he posted the following on his Facebook page inviting young minority journalists to reach out to him. He recognizes the lack of diversity in journalism and wants to do something about it. Reach out to him. He wants to help you.
A HUMBLE OFFER:
There’s a picture going around that compares the very white Republican interns with the decidedly brown Democratic ones. It’s great fodder for meme-making and SMH-ing. Normally, I look at this kind of stuff, scoff, share, and move on.
But I thought about the picture a bit tonight. And I realized that the kids in both pictures, despite their differences in politics, all have one thing in common: someone at some point gave them a shot. Someone mentored them, someone coached them, someone with connections introduced them to someone else. Likely, several someones helped them get to D.C.
If you follow my posts, you know that I am a big critic of the lack of diversity in journalism. I try to point out when this overwhelming newsroom whiteness can produce damaging journalism. But if I’m to be honest, I am also part of the problem. I teach at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a tremendous institution with an equally tremendous price tag. Despite our best efforts to raise scholarship money, we’re expensive, and our tuition undoubtedly excludes many potentially great journalists from studying here. And, my hunch is that many of these folks are people of color or are members of some other minority group.
I don’t have the kind of juice that can get a young person an internship in Congress, but I do know some things about media, journalism, and video production. And, being a Columbia Journalism prof, I know quite a few people in the journalism business. I’m embarrassed it has taken me this long to realize this, but I can mentor, coach, and connect people with the best of them. It’s high time I start doing that.
So, to my humble offer. If you are or know someone who is:
— A person of color
— A woman of any color
— A member of the LGBT community
— A member of any other minority group
AND you are interested in media, journalism, or video, I will try my best to help you out. If you are just starting out, I will mentor you or edit your work. If you are talented and just need to get your foot in the door somewhere, I will make a phone call for you. If you just want to talk about how terrible Facebook Live is, I’m your man.
All you have to do is email me at dnt3 @ columbia.edu. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Yes, this might become overwhelming, but that would be the best problem I could hope to have. The alternative — sitting around and not putting my resources to better use — just doesn’t work for me anymore. And if this truly gets to be too much, I will just harass my colleagues until they help me out.
Please pass this on. Copy and paste it, email it, fax it, whatever. I want the chance to meet as many new people as possible. Hopefully, I can give them a shot.