We’re not done: What the Diversity and Inclusion Board, management did to improve inclusivity in newsroom

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Photo Credit: Barbra Daly | Daily Texan Staff

In August, the Diversity and Inclusion Board members from both the summer and previous semesters published a letter addressed to The Daily Texan management and Texas Student Media. The letter said, “The Daily Texan newsroom has not always been as welcoming and inclusive as it should and can be,” and listed ways the Texan should improve. 

At the time, members of the summer management team and the fall 2020 managing editor released a statement, as did Texas Student Media, which oversees the Texan. 

Since then, the original writers of the letter along with the fall 2020 D+I Board and Texan management have worked to address the demands and improve the newsroom. A Texas Student Media D+I Working Group was formed, and we have met numerous times throughout the semester to work through the letter demands. 

Here is the progress we’ve made so far:

Within the newsroom:

We have created a hiring guide that requires all paid staff to be interviewed and requires those hiring to submit written explanations explaining why each paid staff member will be hired prior to hiring. 

To further ensure fairness in hiring, the diversity and inclusion director will take on the role of hiring director at the beginning of the semester to help the managing editor in overseeing hiring and recruitment. 

We have created a Diversity and Inclusion Handbook that includes the implementation of permanent fixtures, such as the staffwide demographic survey, objectivity training for all staff members and coverage tracking of all stories and sources. 

We will be publishing an end-of-semester report by the end of this academic year that will include coverage tracking of the diversity of our reporting and the results of the demographic survey from fall 2020.  

We have created an application process and earmarked annual funding to sponsor newsroom staff for membership in minority journalism organizations, such as the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and more.

We have earmarked future funding for community outreach and conferences by the D+I Board.

Within Texas Student Media:

Texas Student Media created a portal for all members of staff to submit their thoughts on candidates for managing editor prior to their appointment. 

We have revised the governing documents of TSM to include a clause making the D+I director a permanent fixture at the Texan, pending approval from the TSM Board. 

The TSM director will audit and ensure that the D+I director is paid a stipend every semester that is equitable to similar roles in the newsroom.

Within the Moody College of Communication:

The School of Journalism created a class for spring 2021 titled J349T Diversity in News Organizations. Students will gain a specific understanding of situations faced by those student media managers, analyze and evaluate case studies and problem-solve management issues faced by newsrooms, from student media to major networks and media outlets.

We have made progress. However, the newsroom is by no means perfect, and there is still work to be done to create a diverse and inclusive space for all at The Daily Texan. We are planning on and are committed to continuing our diversity and inclusion efforts for the betterment of the newsroom.

Signed:

Emily Caldwell | 2020-2021 editor-in-chief

Megan Menchaca | fall 2020 managing editor

Trinady Joslin | fall 2020 associate managing editor

Jason Lihuang | fall 2020 associate managing editor

Michael Hernandez | fall 2020 director of digital strategy

Angelica Arinze | fall 2020 diversity + inclusion director 

Ariana Arredondo | fall 2020 co-internal relations director and Life&Arts editor

Areeba Amer | fall 2020 co-internal relations director and news desk editor

Neelam Bohra | fall 2020 collaborations director and associate news editor

Emily Hernandez | fall 2020 news editor

Lauren Girgis | fall 2020 associate news editor

Gerald Johnson | director for Texas Student Media

Anuj Mocherla | president of the board of Texas Student Media

Kathleen McElroy | director of the School of Journalism and Media