Social justice in Portage County

Our mission at The Portager is to be a catalyst for ideas and action that help our community thrive. Unfortunately, today not everyone in Portage County has the same odds of thriving. Race, class, sexual orientation and other arbitrary attributes are predictors of a Portager’s quality of life.

Historically, housing in Portage County has been strictly segregated, with Black and immigrant populations forced to live in specific sections of Kent and Ravenna. These patterns of discrimination still affect generations of Portagers today. For example, Black Portage County residents are unemployed at almost twice the rate of the overall population, and Black women are 193% more likely to give birth at a low birth weight compared with white women, according to a 2020 Portage County resolution.

The Portager recognizes these facts, as well as the responsibility of media organizations to combat systems of oppression, particularly those perpetuated by our own industry. As one Portage County activist said, “The only time they ever put Black people in the news, it’s in the sports section or the crime blotter.”

This perception, cultivated over decades, must be turned on its head by the next generation of journalists. To this end, The Portager pledges to:

  • Emphasize humanism in ethical decisions, particularly when reporting on low-income and marginalized communities
  • Spotlight and support communities that have been excluded from positive news coverage
  • Attract and retain staff, freelancers and advisers who have backgrounds as diverse as the community we serve
  • Use inclusive language and methods in our reporting and in our workplace and continually monitor policies to support a welcoming environment
  • Support and partner with organizations that promote social justice in Portage County

We welcome questions and suggestions. Please contact Publisher Ben Wolford at [email protected] or 330-249-1338.