The Day – Editing while Black: Robin Watson joins The Day’s newsroom team

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Robin Watson joined us over the summer as a multi-platform copy editor.

Her name isn’t in the paper, but her edits and layouts, fueled by her voracious consumption of news and her almost photographic memory, are visible daily.

Watson improves our products in another crucial way. She brings her perspective as a black and biracial woman. She is the daughter of a black father and a white mother.

Watson offered to be interviewed for this column, saying readers would like to know she is here.

“You may feel more comfortable connecting with the newspaper after learning that The Day has a black person on the editorial staff,” she wrote in an email a few weeks ago.

Watson said People of Color are likely to recognize that a Person of Color is involved in the way we present our content and advises that they should keep an eye on headlines and photos.

“You might ask, ‘Why is DWB (Ride While Black) in the headline, or why is there a picture of a little black boy swimming that never comes in?'”

Watson, who grew up in Bristol and recently celebrated her 46th birthday, shared a well-known story about her career path.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to work in journalism since I was a little kid, delivering newspapers,” she began.

She loved reading the mini-page, a newspaper supplement for children. In eighth grade, she took part in the Bristol Press Explorers program, where she said she went to the newspaper’s office once a week, ate pizza and talked about journalism.

She attended St. Paul Catholic High School. The school didn’t have a student newspaper, but that didn’t stop Watson from learning as much about journalism as possible. She attended the Diversity Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She took part in a program for journalism training and career diversification.

She attended Northwestern University for three years and returned to Connecticut after three years to complete her bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph University.

Watson was an editorial assistant for the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport in 2004. Her job was to type short articles, calendar events, and engagements. Whenever she heard someone say they needed someone to interview or do something else that offered a learning opportunity, she held up a hand.

When a friend who worked as an editor said she was leaving, Watson said to the friend, “I’ll take your job.” And she did.

She moved to The Advocate in Stamford, where she worked for four years before leaving the industry for several years to work as a proofreader for a company.

Her story sounds like others I’ve heard from my coworkers, except that she was the only black woman most of the time she worked in newsrooms. She said she never saw black people being prepared for leadership positions.

Watson couldn’t stay away, especially after seeing that two of our editors-in-chief, Managing Editor Izaskun Larrañeta and Assistant Managing Editor Carlos Virgen, are People of Color.

“You’re the senior color journalist I’ve seen in Connecticut,” said Watson. “You don’t see people of color in higher positions, and that’s because of racism. Everyone is talking about representation. We have to see it to know it’s possible.”

The day renewed its commitment to diversity.

“Diversity is a very important issue for the company,” said Editor and President Timothy Dwyer. “We not only strive for a diverse workforce, but also try to make the diversity of our reporting very self-confident.”

In spring 2020, the company formed a diversity committee made up of employees from different departments. Larrañeta chairs the committee, which meets every two weeks. The company has also formed an external diversity advisory board – we will be sharing more on this committee in the near future – and we are finalizing plans for company-wide diversity and inclusion training.

“We know we have a lot more work to do in this area and we strive to make our staff and reporting more representative of the communities we serve,” said Dwyer.

Karen Florin is the engagement editor for The Day. She can be reached at [email protected] or (860) 701-4217.


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