The Center for Public Integrity has joined more than 60 organizations representing journalists across the U.S. in calling on the Pulitzer Prizes to make participation in an annual diversity survey a condition of eligibility for awards.
The group is a mix of professional journalism associations, labor unions and publishers and also includes the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, Society of Professional Journalists, the Institute for Nonprofit News, The NewsGuild-CWA and the Writers Guild of America, East.
Last week Nieman Lab reported that just 303 of 2,500 print and online news organizations responded to a News Leaders Association survey, which has been collecting this data for decades.
In a letter to Pulitzer Prize Administrator Marjorie Miller, the groups asked for the following criteria to be added:
In order to qualify for an award, organizations must provide proof of participation in the most recent general survey/census by the News Leaders Association or another industry reporting system that shares data publicly, effective 2024 (i.e., they must participate in this year’s data collection to be eligible for awards/funding in 2024).
The News Leaders Association supports this addition to the Pulitzer’s criteria for entry, and is committed to prioritizing the survey and working with newsrooms to increase participation.
“News organizations have an ethical duty to be transparent and accountable,” said the organizer of the effort, Sisi Wei, who is co-executive director of the journalism organization OpenNews. “That’s what we demand of the institutions we cover, so how can we make excuses for not answering those same questions ourselves? News organizations can only give communities what they need with newsrooms that reflect the rich diversity of the people they cover — we know the industry isn’t living up to that mission, and we can’t make progress toward it without measuring what needs to change. Collecting basic data like this is a first and obvious step we can take to serve the communities we work for.”
“The Pulitzer Prizes are the top award in U.S. journalism and this simple requirement would make sure hundreds — if not thousands — of news organizations are transparent about how diverse they are,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “It’s a disgrace that many news organizations refuse to share information about the makeup of their newsrooms.”
“Every crisis offers an opportunity for improvement,” said Meredith D. Clark, an associate professor at Northeastern University who recently stepped down from her role as principal investigator on the project. “The Newsroom Diversity Survey was designed to address the industry’s failure to fully and meaningfully integrate in the late 20th century. We now stand on the legacy of that intention by demanding transparency about the demographics and cultures of our ever-changing news workforce. This information is a critical tool in the ongoing struggle to help U.S. news media fulfill its social responsibility to the people.”
Public Integrity, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom focused on investigating inequality in the U.S., is one of the oldest nonprofit news organizations in the country.
As recently as 2016, its staff was 85% white. Today, its newsroom and staff overall are both majority people of color and majority women.
“If we take lessons from industries that have embraced diversity, challenge traditional practices that marginalize underrepresented communities, and recognize that staff diversity is essential to good business, we can create journalism that’s relevant to the communities we cover, resonates with a new generation and paves a sustainable path into the future,” Public Integrity CEO Paul Cheung wrote in a recent piece for Poynter. “Journalism needs to take a cue from the entertainment industry, and embrace the fact that diversity is good for business. That means more than adding a few reporters of color to a newsroom — it means a cultural shift that changes the way newsrooms are run and journalism is done, to produce news that’s relevant and authentic for a multiracial and multigenerational audience.”
Individual signers and organizations can join the effort to push for diversity transparency in the news industry. Add your name or organization here.
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