For NPR, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are Top Priorities

NPR InSites
Cover image for  article: For NPR, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are Top Priorities

In January 2020, NPR CEO John Lansing made expanding the diversity of the NPR audience our No. 1 goal. NPR is committed to delivering on that imperative. In John's words, "We cannot embrace and reflect diversity in our content if we don't do it in our workplaces, in our newsrooms and our board rooms. We set that goal because we need to be better. I want to be clear on that point: We have miles to go."

With support and leadership from champions and partners inside and outside of NPR, we continue to change and improve how we think and do our work. The below examples are a testament to the hard work of many people inside the organization, who are committed to meaningful change:

  • Diversifying our workplace, content and audiences are at the center of NPR's new strategic plan, which will drive our work for the next three years, including in all the networked collaborative initiatives we engage in with our Member stations.
  • Chief Diversity Officer Keith Woods and Chief HR Officer Carrie Storer are bringing powerful leadership to the training and infrastructure around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that we need to be a best-in-class organization, including providing training and consultations to Member station leaders and staff.
  • We continue to amplify diverse perspectives on important issues across all of our shows and through our podcasts, including Code Switch, It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, Throughline and Louder Than a Riot. We continue to invest in marketing and promotion for this programming.
  • Every NPR-produced show and podcast is now engaged in real-time source tracking to help us understand and improve the diversity of voices on our air and online. We are on schedule to have 100% participation across all content by the end of the year. This work is in addition to the retrospective source tracking we've done since 2013.
  • We have made diversity in sourcing, content and staffing a priority for the collaborative journalism network, and we are baking source metrics into our collaborations with Member Stations that are part of the growing NPR/Member Stations Collaborative Journalism Network.
  • We have expanded the diversity of the senior leadership team and the hosts of our digital and broadcast programs, bringing new voices and perspectives to our leadership and content.
  • Marcia Davis has joined us as a supervising editor to lead and edit coverage of race and identity from the National Desk, and in collaboration with Member Stations.
  • Since January, we have conducted mandatory Unconscious Bias training for all those in management roles, and are offering it across the company to all staff. We've provided content creators with additional training by a consultant who specializes in Unconscious Bias for journalists.
  • We are focusing our job recruitment efforts on diverse communities across the NPR staff, intern program and partnerships with Member Stations:
    • Since January, we have required that every finalist pool and every hiring committee have racial/ethnic and gender diversity.
    • We continue our leadership of the Public Media Village, a five-year-old collaboration with Member Stations we co-founded to consolidate the strength and resources of the public media system and take a prominent recruiting spot at the annual NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA conventions.
    • Consultant Doug Mitchell is continuing the NPR NextGen Radio program, week-long boot camps that connect college journalists with professionals from NPR and Member Stations across the country, with a strong emphasis on bringing young people of color into the system.
    • We are in the second year of the Reflect America Fellowship, a year-long program created to help newsroom teams expand the diversity of their sources while introducing NPR to new, talented journalists.

    This list is not exhaustive, and the work described here continues to evolve. This is a company-wide effort. It is also essential that we continue to work in partnership with Member Stations to support the health and effectiveness of workplaces across public media, and to build more diverse audiences.

    Diversity is not a problem to be solved, but an opportunity to be realized. The stories of those whose voices have been missed — or silenced, or misrepresented — due to systemic racism and bias can only make our coverage more meaningful, relevant and compelling. Reflecting America in how we staff and lead our institutions can only make our organizations and industry more successful over time.

    NPR CEO John Lansing states, "To do all this, the leaders in public media — starting with me — must be aware of how we ourselves have benefitted from white privilege in our careers. We must understand the unconscious bias we bring to our work and interactions. And we must commit ourselves — body and soul — to profound changes in ourselves and our institutions.

    "We must do all this not as a 'project,' not as an extracurricular activity; we must do this because, by definition, it is our work. It is inseparable from all of our collective efforts to serve the American audience with trustworthy content on all platforms.

    "Lacking the values of DEI within our organizations will only diminish our ability to attract diverse audiences that represent the great mosaic that is America. Failing at DEI is not an option, because it would be tantamount to failing our mission to serve America. Therefore, we must get this right."

    Photo credit: Stephen Voss

    Click the social buttons to share this story with colleagues and friends.
    The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of
Copyright ©2022 MediaVillage, Inc. All rights reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.