Don Bott, 2002 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year, received the Journalism Education Association’s Diversity Award on April 18 at the spring scholastic journalism convention in Phoenix. Bott teaches journalism and advises The Stagg Line newspaper at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Stockton, Calif.
Bott started teaching at Stagg High School in 1986 and started the literary magazine. He organized The Stagg Line in 1992. His staffs have won four Pacemakers and the 2001 JEA Impact Award for special coverage of students from other countries.
The Diversity Award winner “must be in the forefront in promoting diversity in the scholastic media arena and must have taken steps to break down walls of misunderstanding and ignorance,” according to the JEA Multicultural Commission, which administers the award.
Javonna Bass of McKinney Boyd High School, McKinney, Texas, secretary of the commission and an ad hoc member of the JEA board, said, “His passion for diversity is evident through both his words and actions.”
Bott shared advice for advisers and students on providing inclusion — the term he prefers — in school media during a workshop at the convention.
DIVERSITY: Yes, we can – and yes, it still matters
Tips offered by Don Bott:
- Require the staff members to bring in well-developed ideas that come from outside their circle.
- Challenge students when ideas are really all about them (or people just like them).
- Require that staff members interview those who are not like themselves. That can be as simple as getting the senior to find sophomores to talk to, and the sophomore finding seniors.
- Check stories and pictures for equity in every respect: race, gender, age, student type, etc.
- Be careful of stereotypes and tokenism, even if unintended.
- Be careful to be respectful, not condescending.
- Staff Selection
- It’s a cliché but true: A student cannot see himself ON the paper if he never sees himself IN the paper.
- A snake knows when you are afraid, and a student knows when she is truly welcome to join your staff. If it really is your belief that diversity is important, capable students will respond to you.