Frugé was sometimes told that she was too weak to carry gear, or was critiqued because of the clothing she wore, even though it was similar to her male manager’s clothing. Experiences like these drive her to make a more welcoming environment today in which someone can thrive and be successful.
The Chronicle has not only been successful in creating a diverse staff, but also in creating award-winning photojournalism. Frugé was named Newspaper Picture Editor of the Year in last year’s NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism Picture Editing competition, and her staff won second place in the picture editing team category. The year before, they won first place. They also won team runner-up in the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism Multimedia competition.
Yalonda James, 41, is the most recent staff hire as a photojournalist/video producer and is the second African-American female photojournalist on staff. A recent short documentary of hers, “The BLM (Black Lives Matter) Bridge Protest: One Year Later,” is making rounds in various film festivals.
“I’m thrilled to be here because I’m working with a diverse group of people from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures,” James said. “Throughout my long career, the majority of my colleagues have been white men, so in 2018, it’s refreshing to see the Chronicle has a mixed staff covering the Bay Area.”
James said the staff is one that is fun and energetic and reflects the community.
“I hope in the future more photo teams look like ours, because the nation is comprised of a profusion of races, cultures and ethnicities,” she said. “This country has been a melting pot for hundreds of years, and still to this day there are a great deal of newsrooms that don’t reflect that image.
Frugé’s first hire as director was Gabrielle Lurie, 31, as a staff photographer/videographer. Lurie identifies as being from of Jewish, Moroccan and French descent. In her two years at the paper, she’s won an Emmy for her video “El Refugio de Silvia” and a Best of Photojournalism Environmental award.
For Lurie, the staff’s diversity is especially present when they discuss projects as a team.
“Our diversity is most visible when we all come together for our staff meetings,” Lurie said. “We talk to one another with respect, dignity and equality.”
“To be honest, it doesn’t even cross my mind that someone is speaking ‘as a woman’ or as a ‘person of color.’ What is wonderful is that we are all just a big group of people sharing thoughts from our own perspectives,” Lurie said.
This line of thought is important, especially in newsroom discussions about reporting on the community. The more diverse a newsroom is, the more it avoids the potential for an echo chamber. It also helps the community see itself in the people covering it.
Mejia, 25, was Frugé’s second hire. He identifies as Mexican-American and says his background helps him cover certain parts of his community.
“I introduce myself in Spanish, and the barriers come down. It immediately opens up the front door to their home,” Mejia said.
Often when he hears their stories, they remind him of his parents’ struggle.
“I’m a first-generation American. My parents came to the U.S. for a better life and future. It makes me work even harder to get the job done right,” he said.