Journalism groups ask Pulitzers to require transparency on diversity

Update: April 29, 2022
Our request to the Pulitzer Prizes is really gaining traction! One week ago, more than 50 journalism organizations joined us in asking them to make reporting on newsroom diversity a requirement for award eligibility. More than 160 journalism groups are now supporting the effort.

We have asked that the Pulitzer Prizes plan to announce its intent on or before unveiling the 2022 awards on May 9, 2022. We pointed out that our appeal gives the Pulitzers more than a year to figure out the details of implementation and offered our support to help make this commitment a reality.

(Originally published April 22, 2022) This morning the Guild and more than 50 groups representing journalists across the U.S. called on the Pulitzer Prizes to make participation in an annual diversity survey a condition of eligibility for awards.

Last week Harvard’s Nieman Lab reported that just 303 of 2,500 print and online news organizations responded to a News Leaders Association survey, which has been collecting demographic data for more than 40 years. (The American Society of News Editors and the Associated Press Media Editors joined forces to form the News Leaders Association in 2019.)

The NewsGuild-CWA joined with the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, Ida B. Wells Society, LION Publishers, URL Media, Center for Public Integrity, OpenNews, the Writers Guild of America, East and many others to call for the change to the award requirements. The News Leaders Association also supports the measure, and is committed to prioritizing the survey and working with news organizations to increase participation.

“The Pulitzer Prizes are the top award in U.S. journalism and this simple requirement would make sure hundreds — if not thousands — of news organizations are transparent about how diverse they are,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “It’s a disgrace that many news organizations refuse to share information about the makeup of their newsrooms.”

“News organizations have an ethical duty to be transparent and accountable,” said OpenNews Co-Executive Director Sisi Wei. “That’s what we demand of the institutions we cover, so how can we make excuses for not answering those same questions ourselves? News organizations can only give communities what they need with newsrooms that reflect the rich diversity of the people they cover — we know the industry isn’t living up to that mission, and we can’t make progress toward it without measuring what needs to change. Collecting basic data like this is a first and obvious step we can take to serve the communities we work for.”

“Every crisis offers an opportunity for improvement,” said Meredith D. Clark, an associate professor at Northeastern University who recently stepped down from her role as principal investigator on the project. “The Newsroom Diversity Survey was designed to address the industry’s failure to fully and meaningfully integrate in the late 20th century. We now stand on the legacy of that intention by demanding transparency about the demographics and cultures of our ever-changing news workforce. This information is a critical tool in the ongoing struggle to help U.S. news media fulfill its social responsibility to the people.”

Add your name to the letter here. (See the latest organizations to sign here.)

NewsGuild leaders and members across the continent have been pushing for pay equity and  greater diversity in newsrooms through grassroots campaigns and bargaining. These efforts are fueled by numerous studies that reveal rampant pay disparities affecting women and people of color and newsroom staffs that are significantly whiter than the communities they cover.

  • Just this week, the Arizona Republic Guild reported that data from Gannett, the nation’s biggest news chain, show that men at the Republic make 40% more on average than women, and the gap between white men and women of color has grown wider since last year’s report
  • Last week, The Washington Post Guild released a report that found that, on average, women and people of color are paid far less than their male and white colleagues, and although the company seems to be making a concerted effort to hire more people of color, it is not retaining them. 

We’ve made progress on requiring transparency on diversity:

  • The 2021 New Yorker Union’s first contract includes a joint labor-management diversity committee for each unit, data-reporting requirements to help track diversity outcomes over time, and a company-wide commitment that 50 percent of candidates interviewed for open roles will be from underrepresented groups.
  • The Chicago NewsGuild’s 2020 contract with the Chicago Sun-Times established a website that discloses in real time the gender and racial makeup of every department.
  • Los Angeles Times Guild’s 2019 first contract includes a requirement to interview at least two candidates who are women or members of traditionally underrepresented groups to fill vacancies. Journalists at the L.A. Times also won a $3 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging that women and journalists of color were paid less than their white male counterparts. 
  • The Center for Public Integrity Union 2020 contract mandates that all positions covered by the contract remain open until at least 30 percent of applicants are women and 30 percent are people of color. 

“These are just beginning steps,” Schleuss said. “We will not rest until newsrooms reflect the rich diversity of the communities they cover and until women and people of color achieve pay equity.” 

Here’s the letter:

April 22, 2022

Marjorie Miller
Administrator
The Pulitzer Prizes

Dear Marjorie,

We are appealing to The Pulitzer Prizes to help us improve the diversity and transparency in the news industry. On Tuesday, April 12, Nieman Lab reported that there was “crushing resistance” by news organizations to participate in an annual diversity survey by the News Leaders Association. The group planned to have 2,500 organizations participate and in the end only 303 completed this important survey.

That is unacceptable. 

Our country is reckoning with racial inequity and many in the journalism industry can’t or won’t provide essential newsroom transparency on staff diversity. If we can’t collect crucial data, how do we expect to improve newsroom diversity and represent our communities? NLA is the only organization that has collected this essential data for more than 40 years and it must continue, but it will only continue if news organizations are incentivized to participate in these demographic surveys.

We are asking your organization to promote this survey and reporting of demographic data by adding the following criteria to your selection process for Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism:

In order to qualify for an award, organizations must provide proof of participation in the most recent general survey/census by the News Leaders Association or another industry reporting system that shares data publicly, effective 2024 (i.e., they must participate in this year’s data collection to be eligible for awards/funding in 2024).

By implementing this new criteria, the Pulitzers would honor not only great journalism, but journalism from newsrooms willing to be accountable to the public. NLA supports this addition to the Pulitzer’s criteria for entry, and is committed to prioritizing this survey and working with newsrooms to increase participation.

Journalists have an ethical duty to be accountable and transparent. We must be accountable to our readers and our workers by making sure our newsrooms reflect the demographics of our readers. And we must be transparent with that data to improve the diversity of our newsrooms so they can operate at their full potential. 

Sincerely,

100 Days in Appalachia
Africa Institute for International ReportIng (AIIR), Minnesota
AIR (Association of Independents in Radio)
American Journalism Project
American Press Institute
Anchor media
The Appeal
The Arab & Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA)
Arizona Luminaria
Arizona Press Club
Asian American Journalists Association
Asian American Journalists Association, Philadelphia chapter
The Baltimore Banner
Bay Area Reporter
Bay City News Foundation
The Beacon (The Kansas City Beacon and The Wichita Beacon)
Black Video News
Bridge Michigan
BridgeDetroit
California Health Report
CalMatters
Capital B
Center for Cooperative Media
Center for Ethical Leadership in Media
The Center for Independent Journalists
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Center for Public Integrity
Central Current
City Limits
Cityside Journalism Initiative
Clarisel Media
The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ)
Colorado Community Media
Colorado Media Project
The Columbia Journalism Review
Community Info Coop
Connecticut Health I-Team
The Conversation U.S.
The Current Media
Dallas Free Press
Define American
Democracy Fund
Documented
EDM Publications
The #FightToWrite Initiative
Flatwater Free Press
FMB Radio
Four Points Media
Free Press
Fresnoland
GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Georgia News Lab
Get Current Studio
Grist
Health Stuff TO Know
High Country News
The Hofstra Chronicle
The Ida B. Wells Society
Indiegraf
Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance
Independence Public Media Foundation
Institute for Media and Public Trust, California State University, Fresno
Institute for Nonprofit News
International Women’s Media Foundation
Investigate Midwest
Investigative Newsource dba inewsource
The Kansas City Defender
Lede New Orleans
LION Publishers
Los Angeles Times Guild
Madison Minutes
Making Contact (aka International Media Project)
The Marshall Project
Media 2070
Media Alliance
Media and Democracy Project
Media Bridge Partners
Media Guild of the West, The NewsGuild-CWA Local 39213
Media Innovation Collaboratory/TrollBusters
The Mendocino Voice
Military Veterans in Journalism
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
Milwaukee Newspaper Guild
MindSite News
MLK50: Justice Through Journalism
Mojatu Foundation (Mojatu Magazine)
The Morning Call Guild
National Association of Black Journalists
National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
National Association of Science Writers, Inc.
Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
Native News Online
New York Public Radio
News Catalyst
News Media Guild
News Product Alliance
News Revenue Hub
The NewsGuild of New York
The NewsGuild-CWA
NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
North Carolina Local News Workshop
NuestroEstado.com
The Objective
OnlySky Media, Inc.
OpenNews
OpenSecrets
Our Body Politic
Outlier Media
Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
The Pivot Fund
Prism
Prison Journalism Project
ProPublica
Public News Service
PublicSource
Puerto Rico Sun Communications
Quartz
rabble.ca
Racial Equity in Journalism Fund
Racine County Eye
The Record Community News
Reality Team
Renaissance Journalism
Reporte Hispano
Resolve Philly
The Roanoke Rambler
Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
SAG-AFTRA
Sahan Journal
San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists
Scalawag
Shoresides
Society of Professional Journalists
Society of Professional Journalists, Oregon Pro Chapter
Solidarity Journalism Initiative
Solutions Journalism Network
South Asian Journalists Association
Southern California Public Radio (KPCC + LAist + LAist Studios)
Spotlight PA
The Texas Tribune
The Tiny News Collective
The Trace
Trans Journalists Association
Tucson Sentinel
UnbiastheNews.org
United Media Guild – CWA 36047
The UpTake
URL Media
Verified News Network (VNN)
Vision25: Building Racial Equity in Newsrooms
Vox Media
Washington-Baltimore News Guild
West View Media
Whong Community Media
Writers Guild of America, East
WRHU
WURD Radio
YR Media

Let us know if you want to add your name or organization.