As journalists, we all bring our experiences and background to the table when deciding what to cover, how to cover it and how aggressively to cover it.
That’s why it matters so much who has a seat.
In Nashville, editor Gary Estwick wrote about his uncertainty about leading coverage of Juneteenth (“After all, are we celebrating Juneteenth? Commemorating? Grieving?”) and then produced a project (called “Free-ish”) exploring emotions around the day, its “rich but conflicting history,” and how people were spending it.
Arizona Republic indigenous affairs reporter Debra Utacia Krol, an enrolled member of the Xolon Salinan Tribe from the Central California coast ranges, is one of four tribal members in the newsroom. She has been covering the battle over a copper mine proposed in an area considered sacred by Indigenous people, which led to a broader look at other sacred places around the Southwest that faced similar threats.
USA TODAY Opinion intern Ashley Ahn recently wrote about how she’s on high alert in the subway, worried she could be pushed on the tracks as hate crimes continue against the Asian American community. And that’s not OK.
Gannett’s pledge:Mirror newsroom diversity with the communities we cover.
She’s calling on young people like herself to speak up: “The ‘keep your head down’ mentality no longer works. … Staying quiet and invisible will actively work against our fight for equality and continue to allow for more attacks on our community.”
Stories like these show why, in order to fully cover our communities, we must reflect them. And it’s why the USA TODAY Network has a goal of doing just that by 2025 – to have our newsroom teams match the racial and ethnic makeup of the communities we serve.
Each year, we report our progress.
How are we doing?
In Gannett’s content division, made up of more than 200 newsrooms nationwide, we showed continued positive progress in overall diversity, increasing in Black staffers (from 7.7% to 8.2%), Asian (from 3.5% to 3.9%), Hispanic/Latino (from 7.3% to 7.9%) and two or more races categories (1.6% to 2.2%), while holding steady in all others (Native American, 0.5%; Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.2%).
Gender diversity showed a continued percentage increase in women, from 43.2% to 44.1%.
However, in terms of leadership in the Gannett content division, gaps are wider. This underscores the continuing need to focus on retaining and recruiting the next generation of diverse newsroom leaders.
Each of our local newsrooms has a goal to match its community. At USA TODAY, where we measure ourselves against the nation as a whole, 38% of our staff are people of color, with Black (15%), Asian American (7.8%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (.6%) and two or more races (3.4%), exceeding national parity. About 10% of our newsroom is Hispanic, while the nation is 19.9%. The USA TODAY newsroom is 54.8% women.
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On USA TODAY’s leadership team, 38.7% of the members are journalists of color; 57.3% women.
We’re thrilled to have added or promoted talented editors of color across our news network:
►Edwina Blackwell Clark is now the executive editor of the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio.
►Aki Soga was promoted to be top editor at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont.
►Elvia Díaz became the first Latina opinion editor for the Arizona Republic in its 132-year history.
►Roxanna Scott was named executive editor of USA TODAY Sports.
This progress as a company is heartening for two reasons:
First, the goalposts have moved. The 2022 survey compared newsroom employment with population data from the 2020 U.S. American Community Survey, which reflect the fact that the country overall is growing more diverse. Previous surveys used 2018 data.
Second, in a time of unprecedented employee movement and turnover, we’re not losing ground. We’re gaining it.
Still, across the network, we have significant distance to travel, particularly among Hispanic/Latino team members.
“I represent a group of people and I’m proud to do so,” Díaz said. “It’s not enough to just have Latinos in the newsroom, we need Latinos in positions of power where they can see issues before they happen, see gaps in coverage and fill them.”
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Today we share with you the progress of all our newsrooms with 10 or more journalists.
Krol and photojournalist Cheryl Evans won a prestigious National Press Foundation award this year for their work on the Sacred Spaces project.
“When I was just a skinny little Xolon Indian kid reading the San Francisco Chronicle in front of Bunte’s General Store in San Lucas, I never imagined I’d be standing here amongst all of these wonderful top-flight journalists accepting this award,” Krol said at the ceremony.
“This and other stories like it are why legacy media are well served to attract and retain journalists of color. We offer the perspective of our cultures and histories, which lead to stories that don’t usually get covered in the mainstream.”
Thanks to our changing newsrooms – and to journalists like Krol – those stories are getting closer to the mainstream every day.
A look at staff diversity at USA TODAY Network news sites:
Nicole Carroll is the editor-in-chief of USA TODAY and president of the Gannett news division. Reach Carroll at EIC@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter: @nicole_carroll. Thank you for supporting our journalism. Subscribe here.