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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.

3 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

5 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

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