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'Her Calling Was To Help People Understand One Another': Remembering Dori Maynard

Dori J. Maynard, of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, speaks during a forum at Preservation Park's Nile Hall in Oakland, Calif., in 2013.

In a heartfelt tribute, Fusion Voice's deputy editor Latoya Peterson recalled her seven-year relationship with journalist Dori Maynard as one of "an advisor, a mentor, and a beloved friend." Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard institute for Journalism Education, died Tuesday night at her home in Oakland, Calif. She was 56.

Peterson, a prominent feminist activist who runs the popular blog Racialicious, wrote that while Maynard's accomplishments are endless, it's her lasting impact on diversity initiatives in the newsroom that is most notable:

"It isn't enough to say that Dori was a tireless champion for diversity. Her calling in life was to help people understand one other. She never minimized the role of race in society, and courageously brought the subject up again and again. She countered every excuse she could find, always holding journalism to a higher standard, to truly represent the people of the United States of America. She often stressed [that] the path to accuracy and fairness in journalism required a commitment to broadening the ranks of the press corps."

She argues that more than ever, we need to heed Maynard's fierce insistence that the journalism industry should reflect the diversity of the world it covers:

"Dori knew that changing the tone, tenor, and composition of newsrooms was key to advancing racial justice across the nation. As long as the news peddled in stereotypical and discriminatory imagery, as long as it played a role in stoking the fear and mistrust of nonwhite citizens, our nation could never be whole."

Peterson continued her tribute online, where she cautioned young journalists to appreciate the mentors helping them find their voice.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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