A family member quite dear to me sent me a text the other day with this question: If you were asked by your local newspaper how can they make their coverage more inclusive, more useful and more reflective, how might you answer that and what other important questions would you ask them? After pondering a bit, a number of important questions came to mind. As I committed my responses to paper, I realized organizations other than newspapers might find these questions helpful. With that thought in mind, I share them with you here:
- How diverse and inclusive is your leadership? I would first begin with your newspaper itself. Your newspaper’s coverage is likely to become more inclusive and less unconsciously biased when the company which owns the newspaper is more inclusive. Therefore, making your coverage more inclusive begins by having a more diverse management team, including editors and other key leaders who are themselves inclusive. Thus, diverse leadership and an inclusive environment are essential for inclusive coverage.
- How does your newspaper’s culture support inclusive, useful and reflective coverage? Your newspaper’s culture is also critical for inclusive coverage. An organization’s culture provides clarity on both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. In this case, biased and unbalanced reporting need to be considered absolutely unacceptable in your local newspaper’s culture.
- How do your sponsors impact your coverage? Carefully consider your sponsors. If your current sponsors make it difficult to provide inclusive, useful, and reflective coverage, then determine how you might have a more balanced mix of sponsors.
- How diverse and inclusive are your reporters and staff? Are they representative of your entire community? If your readers were to see a picture of your staff, would they see visible diversity and people who look like themselves? Is your leadership team representative? Is your Board representative?
- What specific actions do you plan to take which convince your readers of your honest commitment to inclusive, useful, reflective reporting? Have your first convinced your leaders and staff of this desired outcome? Have you given them to skills, tools and support to do so?