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News & Opinion

H ere's a question: What's white and white and white all over? No, not ghosts eating marshmallows during a snowstorm. The correct answer is the alternative press. Yep, the very pages you're reading are almost all written by Caucasians, and we're not exactly proud of it. As the Austin Chronicle reports in two articles, Needs More Color and Minorities in the Mainstream, non-whites have yet to gain representative employment in one of the most liberal and equality-sensitive professions around. How can this be?

I can corroborate these articles' findings with my own newsroom experience. In each of several news environments where I've worked, the staff presence of minorities was rare. At one paper, an editor made a conscious effort towards diversification by hiring a black writer. Unfortunately, in this particular case the writer was not very good, and his employment created more problems than it solved.

My personal take on the issue involves a belief that the standards for judging minority integration are often unrealistic and miscalculated. Why should overall minority presence be directly compared to the percentage represented in a particular work environment? Doesn't economic class, as much as race, affect hiring patterns? If so, wouldn't it make more sense to compare minority work-environment representation to the minority's presence at the applicable economic level?

Of course, there are equally important questions regarding whether newspapers, open-minded and socially enlightened though they claim to be, implicitly promote a cultural status quo by avoiding the employment of people unlike themselves. If you have an opinion on the matter and would like to add your two kilobytes worth, head over to the Talk Back BBS and we can discuss it further.

Elsewhere in this week's News Section you'll find great pieces about the religious versus the cultural meaning of Christmas, controversies surrounding the validity of SAT tests, community outrage over mandatory sentences for drug abusers, and a zesty little herb called St. John's Wort that has been touted as "nature's Prozac."

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APD vs. Me: The Hunt Begins
The Alibi staff sounds off on computerized cop cars. [9]
Benny Villalobos

Children of the Damned
Angry young man or cranky old fart? You decide! [10]
Cap'n O

Volume I, Issue 26
December 1 - December 8, 1997

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Needs More Color
The alternative press has long clamored for a diverse society -- but its own newsrooms are starkly white. [2]
Lee Nichols

Minorities in the Mainstream
Alternative weeklies and progressive publications are hardly alone in their problems with minority recruiting. [3]

Does Christmas indeed have any meaning left? A panel of local theologians talk amongst themselves. [4]

Mandatory Minimums
Prisons are filled to capacity with first-time offenders who received harsher sentences than people convicted of violent crimes. Families Against Mandatory Minimums formed to change the laws. [5]
Ben Fulton

Tales Out of School
Passing the SAT is big business. [6]
Roseana Auten

SAT Sample Questions
From the College Board's Test Preparation Materials. [7]

Nurse Ratchett
Enter the wonderful world of St. John's Wort. [8]
Mike Ratchett, Staff Nurse

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Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past
When you're a kid and your mother is Italian, you think everybody eats lasagna for Thanksgiving. [11]
Tom Danehy

Hearth & Soul
Don't put it off -- it will come back much worse. [12]
Suzy Banks

Odds & Ends
Timed-release news capsules from the flipside. [13]
Devin D. O'Leary

Mr. Smarty Pants
Our resident know-it-all unearths the latest trivia. [14]
R.U. Steinberg

Now What?
Can't get enough news? You're in luck -- more news is created every day. Our Now What? page offers a plethora of recommended links to help keep you living in the present. [15]

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