For the past few years, there has been an emphasis on increased diversity and inclusion efforts across all industries. Journalism outlets have responded through various avenues: crafting statements of commitment, offering workshops and training, developing source trackers and inclusion indexes and engaging with survey work.
However, these initiatives still fall into the same DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility) traps that have stifled growth and understanding in this area.
All of this isn’t to say that the work that has been done is wrong or isn’t helping to start the conversation. The issue is that the impact of DEIA initiatives, statements and activities aren’t being tracked. As a result, we can't say what is or is not working.
If, as an industry, journalism wants to be a change leader, newsrooms should consider the following:
Once we have a better understanding of the current state of DEIA initiatives in newsrooms, we can start changing internal structures and creating meaningful learning opportunities and frameworks so we can truly make journalism a trusted space for our communities.
Gaby Martinez-Stevenson has over 10 years of mixed-methods research experience. Prior to joining DPI, Gaby worked as a senior research analyst for higher education, public health and human services. Her academic work centers on race, immigration, citizenship and soccer. She also taught several college-level courses including race and ethnicity and social inequality. She was a member of her city government’s Community Relations Committee, has advocated for accessibility to resources and is a founding member of a local community organization that seeks racial and social justice within her community. Gaby earned her masters in applied sociology from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is currently a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The October 2022 E&P edition includes a Diversity Spotlight article by Gaby Martinez-Stevenson, "DEIA initiatives must be mission-centered and measurable to be meaningful," that misses a big part of any media outlet's mission: Profitability.
This is why DEIA initiatives often only get lip service: They do nothing to improve the bottom line. Your audience does not care about staff diversity or inclusion if your staff does not produce meaningful content.
In this labor market, small media organizations struggle to find staff at all. Larger organizations will only implement DEIA initiatives so long as they can afford them. Can you name a large media organization in the past two years that hasn't trimmed its employees?
For sure, there are plenty of talented people across the spectrum, so if you can afford to replace staff, how much extra room do you have in your budget to attract and retain them?
We know what we need to stay in business — bulldog journalism, innovative story-telling, objectivity, accuracy, integrity, trust, fairness, etc. — and because start-up competitors only need a smartphone and social media, we have to react quickly, too.
So if you focus on hiring staff who can deliver this, regardless of their gender, race, politics, beliefs, religion, etc., you'll survive a long time.
Hire anyone less than the best, and you needlessly risk profitability and longevity.
Martinez-Stevenson wants journalism to be a "change leader" but how can they if they go out of business?
West Branch, Iowa
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here