Torchlight Needs Diversity

This editorial was one of the first editorials Torchlight published.  With our return, we thought it important to make this statement again.

Torchlight emerged from a video game webcomic’s forums, so our population of writers is basically what you would expect: mostly nerdy white guys who work in IT and have free time to dedicate to startup news services. And that’s well and good at this stage of our development: beggars can’t be choosers, after all, particularly when you’re begging for people to volunteer their time for little or no reward. Our fairly homogenous staff doesn’t keep me up at night, in and of itself.

But I’ll tell you what does keep me up at night: worry that we’re getting it wrong. I worry that I’m going to approve and publish an article that has some glaring inaccuracy in it, or contains some offensive or hurtful language, not out of malice but out of ignorance. Fortunately, we have processes to catch that stuff; unfortunately, our team isn’t very diverse, so we’re left with potential blind spots.

I can do all the research in the world, think through an issue as carefully as humanly possible, and approach the keyboard with great caution, thoughtfulness, and humble knowledge of my own limitations. But what I can’t do is approach it as anything other than a middle-class white guy from Michigan. And if the person reviewing my work is a middle-class white guy from Texas, we’re probably catching a lot of similar stuff.

That’s the practical and pragmatic reason that diversity matters: nobody’s experiences are complete, nobody’s experiences are universal, and if all of your people come from the same or similar currents of the world you’re leaving yourself open to mistakes. If you’re running an oil change service, probably not that many; if you’re running a left-leaning news site that covers stories about race and gender and justice, probably a lot.

There are also moral reasons that diversity matters, questions of representation and remedying historic injustices, of boosting marginalized voices and bringing attention to neglected communities. But I don’t know those arguments thoroughly enough to make them with confidence. We need an intellectually diverse crew that can.

We’re committed to providing the best service we can, writing the best articles we can, and being the best people we can; as part of that, we need a diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds on our team. Out of many voices, experiences, and backgrounds, we can make one great news service. If you can help us get there, or know somebody who can, head over to our volunteer page and let us know what you can do. We’d love to have you with us.

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