Diversity Audit for NC Newsrooms: Recommendations from the analysts (page 3)

Recommendations for news employers

Recommendations aimed at news employers fell along four main themes.


The opportunity of competitive pay for new journalists is not always available in every newsroom, but other perks might be, which would make them reconsider leaving the newsrooms they’re growing in.

HOW: This could always be fixed as easily as weekly or monthly check-ins with younger, early-career journalists.
WHY: Checking in with your superior or mentor is extremely important, since always having a more seasoned perspective about concerns, opportunities to grow, and reassurance about your work is necessary for both morale and growth.
– Eileen Rodriguez

Create and flag mentorship opportunities — and by this, I not only mean internships.

HOW: Setting apart a budget/time for training opportunities both in-state and out-of-state for new journalists to navigate the several paths they could take in the field. Usually, journalists find their beat or concentration whilst on the field. An example is partnering with the IRE, a non-profit for Investigative Reporters and Editors, which has a myriad of training opportunities and resources. There’s a subscription which, I know, most young journalists might not be able to afford, if there’s a partnership with the newsroom those prices could be made more accessible to young new journalists of color. Giving a pamphlet or making light of opportunities to young journalists, not only outside of the newsroom but also internally. Get them introduced to older journalists that could provide mentorship and/or one-on-one training to new journalists.
WHY: While on the job, upward mobility is harder for queer/women journalists of color. Early career journalists should be given the opportunity to invest in their future and explore the opportunities in the newsroom they’re employed in.
We should be facilitating learning opportunities for these journalists even after working full-time. This would help with retention and upward mobility.
– Eileen Rodriguez

Open the pipeline for nontraditional candidates.

How: Develop mentorship programs, invest in wider outreach for paid internships and training, and expand flexibility around what journalism looks like.
Why: The more diversity you have in your newsroom, the better you are able to capture what is going on in your community
-Adriana Chavela

Create a better pipeline for diverse candidates.

HOW: Do not ask diverse people in your own network to send you candidates. Hiring managers must build their own connections to schools and associations.
WHY: It’s important that the work of bringing in diverse candidates not be the role of diverse staff.
– Tony Elkins

Interview more diverse candidates.

HOW: Interview more candidates. Make sure you’re not talking to people who look like the rest of your organization,
WHY: The simple act of interviewing diverse candidates is the literal ground floor of learning how those candidates can bring a different perspective and success to your newsroom.
– Tony Elkins


Focus on retention

HOW: Appoint talented journalists of color to top leadership positions. Put in place structured avenues for advancement. Evaluate if there are better ways within your organization to identify leadership skills – be aware of cultural differences. Provide mentorship/leadership training across company levels – there are different ways to define a leader.
WHY: Hiring with diversity in mind is just the beginning. Retention is the key.
-Adriana Chavela

Check in about growing opportunities in a year or so.

HOW: Create a list of early-on goals your mentee, these are obviously subject to changes as the year passes by, but it would be good to monitor what conferences, experiences, classes the journalist has been taking advantage of. Also, be open to recommendations and new organizations to partner with, this could be both local and national.
WHY: Showing interest in the growth of your mentee is essential to their growth. This includes a flow of communication.
– Eileen Rodriguez

When you have new employees in a newsroom, form a mentorship program.

HOW: Pair a younger journalist with someone who has been around for a while.
WHY: To build trust and respect. When I first started in the business, it was a “prove yourself to earn our respect” sort of game. … I do think this mindset kind of continues because if your reporters and photographers trust that you know what you are doing, the respect grows.
– Jamila Elder

Take account of the norms and practices that keep women and femme folks out of leadership or otherwise unable to advance within the newsroom. Provide professional development and career training opportunities with the intention of investing in and retaining women and femme folks in your newsroom.

HOW: Show all staff, but especially women and femme folks that you are invested in their development. Provide resources, access, and time for conferences, fellowship programs, and other trainings. Check norms and practices that prohibit or inhibit their success.
WHY: 60% of survey participants are women but only 15% are in positions of leadership. Additionally, only 17% of women surveyed were promoted into their current role. That points to a big opportunity to better support women in the newsroom. We must be mindful of norms and practices that keep women out of leadership or otherwise disrupt their pathway to promotion. Equity looks like women being able to have a sustainable career in your newsroom; what will it take to make that happen? How do other intersecting identities play a role? Not only that, make an investment in their leadership and professional development.
– Cierra Hinton

Transparency/data collection/sharing

Collect demographic data for your newsroom

HOW: How to Collect, Use, and Gain Insights from DEI Data in the Workplace (SARAH GET LINK)
WHY: “[…] Collecting DEI data just makes sense from a business and company culture perspective. It allows you to avoid discrimination and increase diversity within your company. Without reliable DEI data, showing concrete progress in DEI would be nearly impossible.”
– Laura Brache

Collect and maintain performance data related to diversity

How: Diversity is reflected in the sources, contributors, and interviewees that a newsroom selects. Maintain diversity audits by collecting all data related to diversity, not just the composition of the newsroom.
Why: By understanding the nuances of the communities we cover, we can build relationships that further our knowledge and ability to accurately cover these communities.
-Adriana Chavela

Publically report your organization’s demographics.

HOW: Annual diversity reports should be common, but the results can be easily buried and hard to find. Use good SEO practices and site mapping to highlight them. Editor columns and PDF press releases might look like transparent ways of sharing information, but they are easily lost in the flood of content.
WHY: True change can happen if we have historical information to base progress on.
– Tony Elkins

Pay transparency and equity for diverse employees

HOW: For every job listing, publish the expected salary range.
WHY: The lack of pay transparency has made it easier for employers to historically underpay people of color and women.
– Tony Elkins

Set DEIB goals, establish KPIs and conduct internal diversity audits. Assess your team to learn more about how they’re experiencing their working environment across lines of difference, and identify concrete strategies and outcomes that will lead to marked change as reflected in audits year over year.

HOW: Work with a firm or your HR person to conduct an annual internal diversity audit.
WHY: This practice creates the opportunity for open dialogue, to be solutions-oriented, and creates a mechanism of accountability through clear outcomes (did you meet your goal or did you not?). It also prepares your organization to participate in ecosystem-level audits like this one. Lastly, if more newsrooms set and worked toward DEIB goals each year, we’d likely see progress toward greater inclusivity reflected on an ecosystem level too.
– Cierra Hinton

Newsroom structure/culture

Grow community and audience engagement capacity to match the shift to an audience-centric, product culture in the newsroom.

HOW: Increased capacity would require a newsroom to hire new staff and may require them to shift the existing budget. There may be an opportunity to begin with freelance or contract roles as a means of testing and learning, eventually shifting to staff positions. Newsrooms in close proximity might also explore what it looks like to share a community and/or audience engagement team to support with cost-effectiveness. There may also be an opportunity to shift folks in news and production roles into product and engagement roles within the newsroom (if there is interest).
WHY: Without more capacity for community and audience engagement, newsrooms will continue to be disconnected from the people they serve and reach. This disconnection not only hurts the bottom line, it keeps news organizations from opportunities that can lead to community and reader feedback; more inclusive and responsive content; and a chance to disrupt insular newsroom culture that can be harmful to staff (especially staff of color).
– Cierra Hinton

Establish an editor or manager to oversee DEIB efforts inside the newsroom and in news coverage.

HOW: See No. 2: Changing the DEI Climate: Recommendations for Improving The J-School Environment (SARAH GET LINK)
WHY: When things have systemically been run a certain way for so long, it’s hard to think critically about the everyday. Having a person whose role is solely dedicated to DEIB efforts will bring in a new perspective and help keep others accountable. Also ensures there’s always someone dedicated to the DEI tasks instead of having a leader with a million other things to do fall through when other “priorities” arise.
– Laura Brache

Talk with your own diverse staff to understand their needs and concerns

HOW: Create small working groups, preferably led by non-high-level stakeholders to define the current state of the organization. This must be a safe space where employees can provide the company with a realistic outlook on diversity standards.
WHY: Before any action is taken, you should have a better understanding of what is and is not working already. No one will be able to give you better insight on how your organization can change than your own employees. DO NOT PUT THIS WORK ON THOSE EMPLOYEES THOUGH. They should inform the work, not have to do the work
– Tony Elkins

White media leaders must commit to and hold each other accountable for their participation in DEIB efforts on an individual, newsroom, and ecosystem level.

HOW: White media leaders should be tapped to galvanize recruitment for future diversity audits and other efforts. They should both go public about their participation and help bring others along.
WHY: DEIB cannot be for leaders and people of color to carry a disproportionate amount of the work around on any level. White folks must show up with the same if not more attention to diversity efforts as their BIPOC peers. Specifically, white media leaders have an opportunity to model the way and grow participation not only by showing up themselves, but by asking others or going public about their showing up too.
– Cierra Hinton

Be sure to have diverse voices in your daily meetings. Have diversity in leadership. Make sure that diversity in newsrooms includes people who work behind the scenes to shape coverage.

HOW: Be open to hearing and listening to others’ views
WHY: Having a majority Caucasian leadership often shows up in decisions for your day-to-day coverage. … While I do think George Floyd’s death has given African American journalists a voice in our newsrooms, I do believe we still have work to do.
– Jamila Elder

 Make DEIB a part of your company’s strategic plan, but also part of your employee’s annual goals

HOW: Why Strategic Plans Play an Integral Role in Successful DEI Program Implementation (SARAH GET LINK)
WHY: After collecting the data, you need to make actionable goals based on your findings, and since strategic plans are annual company goals, DEIB efforts can be made part of them. Requiring employees to have a DEIB goal, regardless of their role, is another way to ensure everyone in the company is being held accountable for making the newsroom a place for everyone.
– Laura Brache

Be understanding of the newcomers in your newsroom, especially those with less experience.

WHY: They do have something to offer our newsrooms. I consider myself a dinosaur since I have been in the business for so long, but the newer generation of journalists are coming in with more experience on social media and other platforms, which is the world we live in now.
– Jamila Elder

Encourage your employees to establish an internal equity team

HOW: How one local news organization approaches the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion day in and day out.
WHY: This creates a sense of belonging and inclusion in the company’s decisions, making the employees feel valued for the perspectives they bring.
– Laura Brache

Move from a siloed “editorial” team to a cross-functional content production team. Practice product thinking and create an audience-centric, product culture.

HOW: After newsrooms have increased audience and engagement capacity in their newsrooms, they should ensure that product culture and thinking does not only exist with those teams but is a commitment throughout the whole organization.
WHY: An audience-centric, product culture requires trust, communication, openness and curiosity, and other values that are core to an inclusive workplace. In this way, these shifts go hand in hand.
– Cierra Hinton

White media leaders should also participate in efforts to educate folks on the importance of efforts like this for newsrooms and the NC media ecosystem.

HOW: Ahead and alongside the administration of this audit and other diversity efforts, white media leaders should be talking to their white peers about why their participation is important. They should not only be recruiting and promoting the audit, but they should also be engaging in intentional conversations.
WHY: It is the work of white people to hold other white people accountable and to bring them along in this work. For many, that will require them to leverage their personal relationships and goodwill to have candid conversations that educate others about why their participation is needed.
– Cierra Hinton

Hold candid but respectful facilitated all-team conversations with your staff about their values and experiences in and outside of the workplace. Seek to establish shared values and norms rooted in both shared purpose and what individuals are bringing to the team.

HOW: Hire an outside DEIB facilitator to hold this conversation. By having someone outside your organization facilitate, all team members have the opportunity to fully participate and contribute.
WHY: The survey surfaced the possibility that belonging and respect mean different things to folks from different cultures; no surprise. The only way we can gain an understanding of what those things mean to our team is through conversation. This also creates an opportunity for us to establish a shared norm for what respect, belonging, or other important values look like within our organization.
– Cierra Hinton

Next chapter

"Diversity Audit for NC Newsrooms: Recommendations from the analysts" table of contents

  1. Diversity Audit for NC Newsrooms: Recommendations from the analysts
  2. Meet the analysts
  3. Recommendations for news employers
  4. Recommendations for journalism support organizations, researchers and/or journalism schools
  5. Recommendations for individual journalists