KPBS has been synonymous with SDSU and quality public broadcasting in San Diego for many years bringing to light, a wide range of topics and issues to the San Diego community. Monica Medina is part of that heritage as well. Last Fall Monica was appointed to be the Director of Diversity, Engagement and Grants at KPBS and since then has begun to develop a very exciting diversity program. “ I get to out into the community and find stories that haven’t been told on our programs; I get to be the eyes and ears of the community,” said Medina.
At first, there was uncertainty at the station on how the program would be organized. Would there be a single diversity reporter or assign someone in the news area to do diversity stories? “But why have one person cover diversity when all our reporters should be charged with covering diversity issues in their fields. We have reporters that cover education, the environment and health and diversity transcends all of those topic areas,” Monica said. So how does a reporter go about reporting diversity? Monica says, “To start, don’t rely on the usual sources. Every reporter has his or her set of sources that they go to for stories, and the key, for them, is to challenge themselves in finding new sources for specific topics.”
Monica admits that creating a viable diversity platform has not been without challenges. Aside from funding issues that can be problematic for many programs like Monica’s, creating a thorough diversity initiative from scratch can seem like a difficult task. She has, however, received help and support from SDSU. “I reached out to Dr. Aaron Bruce, Chief Diversity Officer at SDSU, and he has helped me a great deal by taking me into the community and introducing me to people that reflect diversity in their businesses and fields, and that has helped out tremendously.” Monica also has been able to work with different groups in the community to create partnerships such as Access to Independence, Freedom Writers and the Children’s Museum downtown. By creating these partnerships, she hopes to build a strong foundation of connecting with the community and sharing their stories. “One of our favorite partners to work with has been the SDSU IV campus in Calexico. They’re doing so much in their community, using our resources and programs and they’ve been fabulous to work with and we get to reach a very large Latino population.
When asked what the future holds for the program, Monica says that training for reporters is going to be paramount to reaching new communities and finding new stories that reflect those communities. “The diversity arena is really a new field that many companies are starting to get into now by creating diversity liaisons or positions within their companies,” says Ashley Rodriguez, Monica’s Assistant, “and KPBS likes to be cutting edge, we like to be leaders and we want to be leaders in Diversity, That’s our goal.” Figuring out what diversity looks like and how it can be fit into KPBS’ content, whether on the radio, television or web is part of the development process for Monica and her team. “It’s going to be about rethinking the way we get our information, and the way KPBS tells the stories that’s going to make the difference,” said Monica.