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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Newsrooms around the U.S. are adding dozens of positions that involve covering race and social justice. They're also publishing statistics about their own staffs for the first time, in an effort to better address their decades-long shortcomings around diversity and inclusion. 

Why it matters: A national awakening surrounding systemic racism in America ahead of an historic election is awakening newsrooms to the fact that they can't adequately cover the current state of affairs if their editorial teams don't reflect the changing dynamics of their readership and the nation. 

Driving the news: Gannett, the parent company to USA Today — the largest newspaper in the U.S. by circulation — and hundreds of local newsrooms, posted an op-ed from its publisher on Thursday stating that for the first time in its history, the company would publicly share data on the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of its network of newsrooms. 

  • Gannett also announced the creation of 60 jobs to expand coverage of inequities in the U.S., with about one-third of the roles being new hires and the rest reassignments.
  • "These new hires and jobs serve to underscore our commitment to diverse staffing and news coverage at USA TODAY and our local newsrooms. And it’s a commitment that starts at the top," wrote Maribel Perez Wadsworth, president of the USA Today network and publisher of USA Today newspaper.

The big picture: Newsrooms across the country are adding more positions to cover race. Many are changing the way their style guides reflect terms about race and ethnicity.

  • The Washington Post and the New York Times announced company-wide diversity initiatives in June, including the addition of dozens of new positions to cover race.
  • CBS News and CNN both launched initiatives to cover race and culture this summer.

Yes, but: Some news companies are facing backlash from employees for not addressing diversity issues quickly or adequately enough.

What's next: Newsrooms are setting staff goals to hold themselves accountable to their efforts. 

  • USA Today said Thursday that its goal is "parity with our communities" by 2025. 
  • NBCUniversal's News Group set an objective of having a 50% diverse workforce this July.

Go deeper: Newsrooms add new positions to fortify coverage on race

Go deeper

Introducing "Hard Truths"

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Logo: Miranda Leung/Axios. Photos: Bettmann, Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images

Hard Truths is an Axios series exploring the impact of race in America.

Why it matters: If you’re white or rich, it’s easy to believe that racism is something that ended years ago. But the hard truth is: That’s not supported by facts.

  • Our society, institutions and culture are still filled with barriers that shut out people because of the color of their skin, the origins of where they were born and other factors they can’t control.
  • That didn’t just happen a long time ago. It’s happening right now.

Driving the news: We recognize most newsrooms, including ours, pay too much attention to news of the day, and less time examining what's below the surface.

  • We were challenged on this by an Axios employee, who asked during the nationwide protests this summer: "Why does the news media spend all its time focusing just on events like this and then move on, instead of explaining systemic racism?"

Between the lines: We know that some of you will be skeptical.

  • We promise that Hard Truths — like all Axios coverage — will be grounded in facts, clinical and clear-eyed, so you get the full picture.

What’s next: Each month, we'll examine a fresh topic. Our project begins on Saturday with voting. In coming months, we’ll explore education, housing, technology, sports, health care and more. You’ll find this coverage:

  • In special Saturday bonus editions of Axios AM.
  • On Axios.com in a new "Deep Dive" format.
  • On a special edition of our "Axios Today" podcast that will accompany each new topic.
  • On "Axios on HBO."

The bottom line: Our goal is to equip you with facts showing the full picture of race in America — a topic long overdue for this nation and its leaders to confront.

Go deeper: Our first installment, on race and voting in America.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

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