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The Backstory: Why newsrooms flourish when diverse voices speak out, create, lead

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I’m USA TODAY editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll, and this is The Backstory, insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you’d like to get The Backstory in your inbox every week, sign up here.

From top left, USA TODAY's Rasha Ali, Lokela Blanc, Fatima Farha, Mabinty Quarshie, Claire Thornton and N'Dea Yancey-Bragg.

Fatima Farha was painting a flower in her kindergarten class, waiting for lunch, when the teacher suddenly announced that the class was going home early. Parents were on the way. 

At home, her dad was watching the news. A building was burning. Sirens were blaring.

It was Sept. 11, 2001. 

That 5-year-old kindergartner is now a 25-year-old audience editor at USA TODAY. 

Farha says that day – and the Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment that followed – continues to shape her life as a Muslim woman.

She wanted to tell her story. The suspicion of strangers. Her family’s fear. And she wanted to hear from other young people who had stories to tell about what their cultures and identities truly mean and what they’ve experienced as a result.



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