Survey Finds Majority Of Radio Newsrooms Are Now Focused On Improving Their Diversity.


Two years since social justice issues made headlines following the death of George Floyd, a majority of news outlets say their organization has formal positions devoted to diversity work. A survey by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism shows 56.3% of news organizations are focused on diversity in their newsrooms – including radio newsrooms.


Among the radio and podcast companies surveyed, 52.8% said they have format positions dedicated to diversity and inclusion. That is, however, less than the number of people who said the same in television (72%) and newspapers (61%).


Among the changes that have occurred inside media organizations, Medill says the most common was the creation of new policies related to language use about communities of color, with 60% of organizations adopting new guidelines. Other changes include adding diversity training workshops (58%), updates to hiring practices to encourage diversity (52%), new policies related to language use about protests of racial injustice (37%), and changes to employee retention programs (31%).


The Medill survey shows seven in ten radio and podcast employees feel as though diversity programs are having a positive impact on their company and that the efforts have had a positive effect on their organization. But a smaller number, 49%, said they are satisfied with what their newsroom has done.


Medill associate professor Stephanie Edgerly said a “shift” may be occurring in the news business. The survey results indicate “a shift” may be occurring, Edgerly said. “A majority of people see diversity as a benefit, as a positive for the industry,” she said. “But digging in and committing to culture change in newsrooms will require more change, effort and support. There is still a lot more work to be done,” she told Medill’s Local News Initiative.


The second-ever Medill Media Industry Survey was conducted between Nov. 30 and Dec. 31, 2021. While 86.9% of the 1,543 respondents were White, Medill Professor Danielle K. Brown said the survey represents what newsrooms look like today.

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