Diversity Spotlight

DEI success requires more investment than single session training


A newsroom is not going to workshop its way to inclusivity. Spending $20,000 on 24 hours’ worth of training spread out over three days will just leave your organization $20,000 lighter. And few will remember a single session attended via Zoom. 

So, where are news professionals seeking resources to better understand, inform, train and implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) goals? Here’s what a few news professionals shared with me on condition of anonymity:

“In so many newsrooms, including ours, there’s still a conversation about diverse voices and diverse candidates. There have also been issues when somebody … says something like ‘diversity hire' without knowing what’s wrong with it. We've worked to reexamine language and what we mean when we say ‘diverse.’ If you mean ‘non-white’ or people from traditionally underrepresented groups, I’d say that.

I asked others if they’ve been able to express their position on diversity and have their voices be heard. One of my sources said, “You need buy-in from editors in the newsroom, or DEI won’t work. Corporate and top managers are essential, but media organizations see a lot of turnover. Even as the only diverse voice in the room, mine is often drowned out because of my position in the company — or just because.”

Another expressed an inability to find and leverage useful DEI help: "We heard of someone in town who conducts diversity training for area businesses, and I reached out to him. He came in right after George Floyd and will return in a couple of weeks. That's about it, though.”

In other words, we're still not doing enough as an industry.

The Diversity Pledge Institute is a good start. It's created a cohort of newsrooms working together and sharing DEI data. When we work together like this, we are more effective at setting and reaching our inclusivity goals.

Inclusive journalism is crucial to sustainable journalism and a sustainable democracy. It's well-documented that the traditional, training-centered approaches to diversity, equity and inclusion raise awareness but fall short of transformational change.

By contrast, we have worked with a number of organizations that, in fact, have made real progress with inclusive journalism through the results-driven methodology that powers The Media Transformation Challenge, a Poynter Institute Executive Fellowship, as well as the Table Stakes programs in both the U.S. and Europe.

We challenge newsrooms to participate in these initiatives and advance their best practices. Time is of the essence. Developing, implementing and communicating a clear DEI strategy will broaden the perspectives in the newsroom and likely improve retention, slowing down the revolving door that leads your talented journalists to seek other employment.

Larry Graham is the founder and executive director of The Diversity Pledge Institute.


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