How journalists should talk to diverse sources

Reporters do it every day.  They talk to people “across differences” as Poynter’s Kenny Irby likes to say.

But reporters don’t always do a good job of exploring those differences for the audience to tell richer stories.

“If you can get to appreciate ‘otherness,'” says Irby, “embracing conditions of difference can help us move to a place where we can begin our conversation.”

Irby says following an interview, you need should ask yourself three questions:

1. What surprised you?

2. What did you learn?

3. What else do you need to learn?

“Your surprises will invariably surprise others,” Irby says.  “You always have further questions.  All of us have a capacity to learn more about others.”

And Irby says exploring the diversity of the people we talk with matters — whether we’re talking about disability, sexual orientation or race.

“Portrayals of minorities reflect how the majority society views and treats these issues and people,” says Irby.

Irby suggests to be an ethical journalist, you must educate yourself on as many dimensions of diversity as possible.

“Reporting based on prejudice is inherently inaccurate.”