Why diversity?

July 10, 2013 

We don’t get to drill down on a particular topic in the newspaper business as much as we would like to.

Certainly, that’s one of the many ways our industry has changed over the years.

When we do, though, I firmly believe we are doing a service to our readers and to journalism by presenting community-related issues and topics that should be at the forefront.

A few years ago, our newspaper presented a comprehensive look at the shifting landscape of downtown Lee’s Summit, how ownership of some buildings had changed hands and what those changes meant for this area.

Recently, we were able to break down the ever-evolving culture of Lee’s Summit – racially, financially and in many other ways.

This is a topic any newspaper in any given year or decade could tackle.

And it wasn’t just a pending report on diversity in our town that prompted this series.

Our feedback ran the gamut during the three stories we printed over the last three weeks. Some readers were surprised at the numbers, the growing minority population and still extreme low of our crime rate.

Others questioned why we would even report numbers that break down the racial, age or income population of our town.

A few people noted the employment numbers, which they construed as a need for an increasing awareness on minority recruiting.

We even heard from a few elected officials who didn’t seem to “get” the point of the series.

I would hope the point is pretty clear – showing how a town of 70,000 (12 years ago) grew to 91,000 (today), what changes we experienced from an age, gender, socio-economic and in other ways during that time and how different employers in town act and react to those changes.

Our series didn’t focus solely on racial changes; nor did we take an accusatory tone with any segment in Lee’s Summit in reference to hiring or other diversity issues.

We simply wanted to show our readers, city and business leaders how Lee’s Summit – like any city naturally would – changes over time.

What should be on the agenda for those city, school and business leaders moving forward is simple: engaging an increasingly diverse city to be involved in any of the activities, functions, service organizations or schools that give Lee’s Summit the quality of life we have come to expect.

John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail jbeaudoin@lsjournal.com.

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