Correctives to increase pubmedia diversity
The road to Hell is paved with DEI misconceptions... and there are lots
This is la segunda parte of an essay on public media staffing. Read la primera parte.
It's no secret that the public media industry has a whiteness problem when it comes to hiring, leadership and retention. Although initiatives have been taken to increase representation of Latinos and people of color broadly in this sector, more needs to be done to break down barriers and create a culture that welcomes everyone.
Let’s talk about a few approaches for public media organizations to implement in order to make progress on this crucial goal. 🙌🏾
In OIGO, I’ve covered issues like belonging and trust as well as DEI. Public media faces a multilayered problem here. 🤔 The first segment of this post was aimed at unpacking the more intricate problems faced by stations. Now it is time to see about solutions.
Also, let’s push back on some of the common hiring and recruitment tactics. Greater access for Latina/o/e/x staff depends on it. 🙏🏽
Challenges to diverse hiring
If you missed part one, here’s a summary of the top issues.
There are many challenges that organizations face when trying to increase diversity in the public media industry. ✔️ One challenge is that there may be a lack of diverse candidates in the pool of applicants. This can be due to factors such as a lack of recruitment efforts targeting diverse candidates, a lack of connections in HR, or unconscious bias in the hiring process.
Another challenge is that even when diverse candidates are hired, they may not stay with the organization for long. ⏳ This could be due to a not-great work environment, including microaggressions, inappropriate remarks and being “the only one” with no communication from leadership on commitments to change that. Finally, feelings may linger that we are not valued or respected, or simply not having our voices heard. Terrible pay is a significant issue as well.
Lastly, how public media talks about itself, and thinks about leavers, needs to change.
Misconceptions and corrections to increase diverse staffing
There are many strategies that public media organizations use which demand reevaluation. Some of these include:
Misconception: Public media may Increase the number of diverse candidates that are recruited and interviewed for open positions by sharing openings with diverse professional organizations, like NAHJ, and networks.
As you may have noticed, this strategy has barely moved the needle. 😟 Why? Paying a job board or someone to shop your job is no replacement for building trust. A more assertive approach must be cultivated in our system in which we are actively building better relationships – not just by HR, but by public media. Showing diverse communities and stakeholders what an asset your organization is or can be; and having regular contact so you’re more of a presence can increase good word of mouth and quality candidates.
Misconception: Incorporating language in job descriptions, such as stating that the organization is “committed to a workforce that reflects the diversity of our community” or something similar, encourages diversity.
Diversity is as much a skill as it is a value. 👍🏽 Rather than emphasizing what you welcome, consider placing beside such verbiage the number of diverse hires your organization has made in the last year; what’s currently happening on the DEI front; or the amount of money spent on diversity programs. Yes, organizations should strive to create an environment where all individuals feel respected and appreciated for their contributions, and say they care. Showing your work will make an impact.
Misconception: Offering targeted training and development programs for staff members can help create a more welcoming atmosphere for underrepresented groups.
Public media training programs typically focus on topics like developing particular skills or effective communication strategies. 👉🏼 As Celeste Headlee has noted in her writings, resistance to diversity is a behavior problem, not a knowledge problem. Therefore, organizations need to address systemic issues and create an environment that supports inclusive cultures. That means relying on more than just diversity training alone. It also means parting with staff who can’t meet the expectation.
Moreover, we should think about recruiting and retaining professionals of color as creating generational wealth in public media. 💵 Rather than focusing on individual hires and goals for fiscal years, those in this system should look at our early-career journalists and staff as those carrying forward diversity, equity and inclusion legacies, learning and rewards for the next 20, 40 and 60 years.
If you’re a leader or mentor, consider how that shift in mindset changes the way you help others, how you show up in diverse hiring, and how it prompts you to reconsider what’s leaving for a ‘better opportunity’ and what’s a wake-up call. Public media’s (and white-collar work’s) to-do list orientation asks us to look at diversity as a problem to be fixed. My encouragement is to see diverse recruitment and retention as more than a puzzle we solve, but an ongoing personal and professional investment you make in the lifetime of your career, thinking of public media’s equitable future as we do our families and the hopes we have for them after we are gone.
Let’s close on another note. 🖊️
As the U.S. population continues to grow and diversify, it is imperative that public media organizations reflect this diversity in their staffing. 📈 We talk often about increasing diversity in public media hires. It’s vital that we are intentional in our efforts to recruit and hire Latina/o/e/x journalists, content creators and leaders.
There are many qualified Latine staffers who can bring fresh perspectives and new voices to public media organizations. 🧊 Latina/o/e/x staff members can provide an important viewpoint on stories affecting the Latino community. They can also help connect public media organizations with the Latinx audience. In addition, hiring Latino journalists can help public media organizations tap into the local Latino market. By increasing the number of Latinos on staff, public media organizations can better reflect the communities they serve.
Ultimately, increasing diversity in public media staffing is essential in many ways. We’ll ensure that public media organizations are not just reflective of the communities they serve, but inspire new ideas, initiatives and connection. Such might most critical to public media’s future. 🟢
La próxima ⌛
The next OIGO is in your inbox Match 3. Let's jump into one of the more complicated (and controversial) topics in public media: why can't we do Spanish-language broadcast content? ✒️ Programming in Spanish has been done for years by community and public-access media, but it seems strange to most in the rest of the system. If you have thoughts and want to share them, confidentially or otherwise, hit reply.
Mil gracias a mi amiga Michelle Faust Raghavan, whose recent chat with me informed some of the hiring conversation this newsletter. 🎁
Gracias tambien a Suzanne Schaffer, who wrote a kind reflection on OIGO for Whisper Speak Roar’s blog. 🥂
Cafecito: stories to discuss ☕
The Record-Journal in Meriden, Connecticut launched its Latino Communities Reporting Lab (Reportajes de la Comunidad Latina) in March 2021. 🚨 The results of that, the Latino Communities Reporting Lab Listening Playbook for Actionable News Strategies, is out now.
A collaboration of public media in Texas has released its Latino voter engagement project. 🗳️
After nearly two decades of dedicated service, the Dallas Morning News will restructure its Spanish-language service Al Dia, switching from original content to translations and wire copy. 😿
Letrell Crittenden, director of inclusion and audience growth at the American Press Institute talked with the Columbia Journalism Review about the launch of the API Inclusion Index. 📊 The resource is aimed at improving newsrooms’ coverage of communities of color.
World Radio Day prompted calls for attention on Venezuela, where nearly 300 radio stations have been shut down by the government. 👮
El radar: try this 📡
Cover the latest library salvo. 📚 Books on race have been a big deal in the battle over public libraries and kids. Now, Axios reports on legislation that may visit states and counties. Model bills are crafted after Texas’ abortion ban, making libraries subject to lawsuits.
Look into post-pandemic bilingual education. Aspen Public Radio explored how educators in Durango are serving Spanish-speaking students in the community. 🎒 The district is contending with many issues, including schooling at the end of the covid surges. And yes, there is still a shortage of bilingual teachers.
Ask about priorities of state Hispanic leaders. Northern Public Radio sat down to see what Latine lawmakers see as their focus areas in 2023. ⚖️ It prompts me to wonder how many public media organizations are querying their state Hispanic caucuses (I didn’t find many).
Explore the rise of other ethnicities in Latino-dominant areas. 📈 The New York Times investigated the rising political power of Asian Americans in Latino-majority San Antonio. These issues are an old story, but well worth checking on the contemporary dimensions.
🥤 You can buy me a coffee if you’d like to support the newsletter.
Thank you Ernesto! An excellent dispatch, as always. I love the art you created, "What the actual hell" as those are the actual words that have come out of my mouth on this very topic!