Published in The Day
By Izaskun E. Larrañeta
My personal mantra is that if you’re not learning something new everyday then you’re not growing.
And 2022 was a year of growth for The Day newspaper.
After the death of George Floyd, and the social unrest that followed in the summer of 2020, The Day formed a Diversity Committee and we asked ourselves some difficult questions.
Is this local newspaper covering the entire community it serves? Are the sources we’re using for our stories diverse? Are we making efforts to diversify our workforce? Are we making connections with diverse businesses?
The answers to these questions were enlightening and made us realize The Day needed to do more and be better if we truly want to call ourselves a community newspaper.
As a result, employees last year completed six months of training in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion training with in-person instruction from Stephanie Johnson of OneDigital Learning in Atlanta.
It was critical for our employees to understand how the use of language and how misusing a word or even an image can cause irreparable damage to a group of people.
And just to be clear, this training wasn’t about political correctness or a sudden need to be “woke.” It’s about fairness. It’s about doing what is long overdue.
We're grateful to have received financial assistance for the training from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund and Chelsea Groton Foundation.
This kind of reflective work never finishes. The hope is that we have given our employees tools to help them navigate this important issue in their work and everyday lives.
The Diversity Committee also decided that we had to cover our minority communities in a deeper, more meaningful way. We came up with the quarterly special section called More than Month, which is intended to highlight the history and accomplishments of residents, small businesses, leaders and celebrate the important role they have in shaping our communities.
These stories, like the special tab suggests, should be told and seen in our daily newspaper not just in a celebratory month. We have to do a better job of including voices we don’t consistently cover or hear from.
In 2022, we focused on telling stories about our Black, LGBTQIA+, Hispanic and Native American communities.
These special sections were important because we learned about the community in a positive way that didn’t stigmatize or stereotype them in an adverse way.
We learned what it means to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. We learned about the Black Heritage Trail in New London and how it provides a glimpse of Black life and resilience in New London. We met some important role models and political figures in the Latino community; and we learned how the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot and Eastern Pequot tribes kept their histories alive despite being told their culture had no value.
These are just a small fraction of the stories featured in these special sections. I can guarantee you if you read any of these stories you would have learned something new and it is in that learning that growth starts.