This week’s roundtable.

It was proven beyond all doubt today that you can tweet and talk at the same time on the Daily Circuit’s Friday Roundtable.

I was on it today along with Lars Leafblad, principal with Keystone Search, an executive search firm; and Kyle Tran Myhre, also known as “Guante,” a hip-hop performer and two-time national poetry slam champion.

The main topics were the killing of Trayvon Martin, and employers who demand the Facebook passwords of job applicants. We never got around to the question before the Supreme Court this week about whether mandatory life sentences should be imposed on juveniles who commit murders. But scroll back through the week and you can read plenty about that particular issue.

Update 4:52 p.m. David Kearsley sent in this comment about the program and gave us permission to reprint his message:

Perhaps if the MPR News staff was not almost completely bereft of non-Caucasian “on-air” and production team talent, you wouldn’t have to trot out people like “hip hop artst” Kyle Tran Myhre (or gospel/blues singer Jearlyn Steele) in order to have an African-American voice available, as you endeavor to cover stories such as the Trayvon Martin case, among others.

Talented and insightful as he might be, Mr. Myhre is not a journalist, and I for one am pretty sick and tired of the “Minnesota nice” apartheid system in place at MPR News. I’ve been in the MPR building multiple times, and I’ve been examining the list of “MPR People” on this website, in order to get a feeling for how many African-Americans work on the MPR News production staff. So far I’ve come up empty. We won’t even talk about the “on-air” news situation.

  • Jeanne

    I think to some extent Mr. Kearsley has a point. And I don’t think his observation is limited to MPR News staff, it could be said about a number of organizations and companies throughout Minnesota. I remember sitting in a training about board recruitment for nonprofits. The suggestion is you recruit board members from your at-large membership. Someone asked about trying achieve diversity on their board and the trainer said, “You won’t ever achieve diversity on your board if you don’t have it within your membership.” Of course, the next logical question was how to achieve diversity and the answer was you make a concerted and conscious effort to do so; you do more than say “I tried” and throw up your hands.

    With that I’ll also say I think people don’t go where they don’t see people like themselves. Years ago I wanted to go into sports reporting, but saw no women there, so the very simple message I got was “we don’t need you here.” And I’d say that the demographics amongst sports reporters has changed very little over the years. What’s very sad about that is you’ve potentially eliminated wonderful talent based simply on your own biases.

  • allie

    You know, I thought something very similar last week. I love MPR, and have been a member for the last 10 years–since just after high school. But I would LOVE to see (or, erm, “hear”) more diversity in reporting staff.

    That being said, I appreciate that despite what I perceive a lack of staff diversity, that MPR tries its best and really does stay ahead of the curve on covering issues having to do with race.

  • Bob Collins

    The question of diversity in newsrooms is always an interesting one. I’m on the side of the need for more diverse class over race. For example, more homeless or poor reporters would be more helpful in terms of WHY you want diversity than a racial/ethnic divide. It would change the content significantly.

  • Speaking out for lucy

    Bob, what does a homeless reporter wear to work?