Jun 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Newsrooms add new positions to fortify coverage on race

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Washington Post and the New York Times, two of the biggest newsrooms in the U.S., are pushing company-wide diversity initiatives and adding dozens of new positions to cover how race influences issues from national security to health.

Why it matters: The hirings come as the media industry reckons with how to cover race. Top editors across multiple newsrooms have stepped down following actions, words or handlings of covering race and Black Lives Matter protests in their newsrooms. Many have vouched to do more to address issues of systemic racism internally.

Catch up quick: The Washington Post is adding over 12 newsroom positions to cover race and racial discrimination through different beats, including a writer to cover race and identity in America, a photojournalist with experience covering race, and a national security reporter to dig into far-right and white nationalist groups.

  • The New York Times on Thursday emailed staff saying it has plans to create "a more modern news organization that benefits from the wisdom of a larger and far more diverse staff."
  • Senior NYT executives Amber Guild, Anand Venkatesan and Carolyn Ryan will lead the company's efforts on equitable hiring, placing more people of color in leadership roles, and holding managers accountable for progress, Times leadership wrote to staff on Thursday.
  • Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubac wrote to staff last week that she requested a "company-wide systematic overhaul of how we hire, develop and retain a globally diverse workforce," after Refinery29 editor Christene Barberich resigned following staff descriptions of discrimination within the company.

The big picture: Over three weeks of Black Lives Matter protests of Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. have forced dozens of media companies to reckon with their own newsroom diversity and coverage on race.

Be smart: Newsroom employees are more likely to be white and male than U.S. workers overall, according to data from Pew Research Center.

  • More than three-quarters (77%) of newsroom employees are non-Hispanic whites, according to the analysis of 2012-2016 American Community Survey data cited by Pew. Those employees include reporters, editors, photographers and videographers in the newspaper, broadcasting and internet publishing industries.

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