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In 2018, The Texas Tribune announced a plan to better diversify not just our newsroom but our entire organization. Our intention, set out in our strategic plan, is for our staff to be better representative of Texas and the audiences we want to reach and serve.
This goal is essential to our success. Journalists from different backgrounds offer a variety of perspectives on how we cover news and what we consider newsworthy in the first place. From top to bottom, the Tribune must have a staff that reflects the demographics of a rapidly changing state. Diversity — not just in race and ethnicity but also gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, disability status and age, among other variables — leads to better journalism.
In 2021, we continued to improve our hiring practices to help us better reflect the state. We collect confidential job applicant demographic data and we require that candidates from underrepresented groups are included in the interview stage for every position. We’re investing more in recruitment, advertising openings with professional associations that promote diversity. We’re boosting our presence at conferences for journalists of color and journalists from underrepresented communities, with a goal of forming relationships with and tracking potential candidates for current and future job openings. We’re posting jobs publicly and widely, working to ensure that the language in our job descriptions is inclusive and doesn’t discourage prospective applicants. Hiring committees — cross-departmental panels meant to ensure that a variety of perspectives are at the table — evaluate our candidates. And we’re creating a pipeline of future candidates through our student fellowships, which include commitments to work with historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions.
Here’s how we’re doing. At the end of 2021, 39% of staff members were people of color, compared with 37% in 2020, 33% in 2019 and 30% in 2018. In 2021, 59 percent of Texans were Hispanic, Black, Asian American, Native American or Pacific Islander.
So, that’s progress but we have a lot of work left to do to ensure that our mission-driven, nonpartisan newsroom is as diverse as it should be. And in fact, we’ve continued to make progress since this report was completed at the end of 2021: 62% of the new staff hires we’ve made so far this year have been people of color — including myself — and we’re not stopping until we’ve reached our goal of reflecting the diverse communities of the great state of Texas.
Sources: Tribune staff survey and U.S. Census Bureau 2021 and 2020 estimates
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