All readers in North Carolina who are looking for high-quality information should feel reflected, respected and represented by coverage in their area.
But how do we measure progress towards this goal? There are national diversity surveys that seek to understand the staff makeup of newspapers or broadcast organizations, but no one was measuring diversity, equity and inclusion at a statewide level — and, as organizations that support local newsrooms in the state, that data is critical in helping us provide programming reflective of our community needs.
The North Carolina Local News Workshop reached out to UNC’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media to partner on an ambitious effort: a statewide diversity survey that aims to learn about the staff of each news organization—regardless of type or size—in every community of our state.
Our goal is to reach all the news organizations and all the journalists in North Carolina, regardless of whether they work in print, digital or broadcast. And we hope that the strong relationships among the state’s well-networked news ecosystem, where journalists collaborate on projects regularly, will create desire to participate.
The diversity audit includes two surveys, an organizational survey is meant for news executives to provide overall data about their organization. And an individual survey.
The individual survey has powerful potential:
- It gives individual journalists the power in choosing how they want to identify and whether they want to participate, regardless of their newsroom’s decision to participate. The survey is anonymous, and individual data points will be protected.
- Because each question in the individual survey is voluntary, we can cover more ground than the organizational survey can, with questions about sexual orientation and disability, for example.
- The survey covers the growing number of journalists who do not work full-time in a newsroom, and would allow us to learn more about this important demographic.
We need as many responses as possible to the individual survey to provide the clearest picture we’ve ever had about the journalists who work in our state.
Why us? Both centers are focused on creating long-lasting local newsrooms. The NC Local News Workshop, based at Elon University, focuses specifically on North Carolina. UNC CISLM has a broader local news focus, but as part of UNC, has a mandate to serve the state. And we both believe that for local newsrooms to be sustainable, they must be more equitable and they must both reflect and serve the communities they cover.
And at a time when many organizations need scarce grant funding, it made sense for our two organizations to tackle this project with the research and staff capacity that we already had, in the spirit of Design-Do (a concept from the Table Stakes initiative).
But the two of us in our respective leadership positions—we’re both white women working at predominantly white organizations—also recognize that we must broaden and diversify the team that will be looking at survey results and providing recommendations. We are recruiting a panel of Diversity Audit Analysts to provide expertise, analysis and recommendations based on the results of the audit. Here is more information on the panel, including participation details and how to apply. Please reach out if you have questions.
We want to be as transparent as possible, both as we launched the survey, and about our methods and goals. And we want help. In that spirit, we have an ask: Please take our surveys, and help us spread the word.
- Here is the link to the organization-wide survey. A newsroom leader, or someone in HR, with access to EEOC data should take the survey. Please note that we are not asking newsroom leaders to make assumptions about the identities of their staff: https://unc.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6qURQ0QLsBzZiYK
- Take the individual survey yourself, and share your experience with journalism colleagues and friends. Those who complete the survey can enter into a drawing to win a $50 gift card. Let your colleagues and staff know they are free to take the survey if they choose. The link is here: https://unc.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7ODn1lw8AJvWWjA
- Share the audit with any journalism organizations, listservs or social media groups you belong to.