Citing “Crushing Resistance,” AAJA Joins Journalism Groups in Asking Pulitzers to Require Transparency on Diversity

The Asian American Journalists Association joins OpenNews, The NewsGuild-CWA and more than 50 organizations representing journalists across the U.S. who are calling on the Pulitzer Prizes to make participation in an annual diversity survey a condition of eligibility for awards.

The group is a mix of professional journalism associations, labor unions and publishers and includes the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, Society of Professional Journalists, IThe Ida B. Wells Society, International Women’s Media Foundation, LION Publishers, URL Media, Center for Public Integrity, OpenNews, The NewsGuild-CWA and the Writers Guild of America, East. 

Last week, Nieman Lab reported that just 303 of 2,500 print and online news organizations responded to a News Leaders Association survey, which has been collecting this data for decades.

In a letter to Pulitzer Prize Administrator Marjorie Miller, the groups asked for the following criteria to be added:

In order to qualify for an award, organizations must provide proof of participation in the most recent general survey/census by the News Leaders Association or another industry reporting system that shares data publicly, effective 2024 (i.e., they must participate in this year’s data collection to be eligible for awards/funding in 2024).

The News Leaders Association supports this addition to the Pulitzer’s criteria for entry, and is committed to prioritizing the survey and working with newsrooms to increase participation.

“AAJA firmly supports this effort towards greater transparency for diversity,” said AAJA national board member Jin Ding. “We know from our own lived experiences as AAPI journalists and journalists of color that diverse newsrooms are an asset – a necessity – to quality journalism and sustainability of the news business. To resist being transparent about diversity and inclusion is to ignore the opportunity to engage diverse audiences and to improve the industry overall. AAJA enthusiastically signs on to this effort to urge the Pulitzer Prizes to require participation in NLA’s annual diversity survey.”

“The Pulitzer Prizes are synonymous with excellence in journalism, and AAJA demands the same standards of excellence when it comes to newsrooms’ commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said AAJA executive director Naomi Tacuyan Underwood. “Journalism must be accountable to the same level of transparency that they demand of other institutions of influence and power.”

“News organizations have an ethical duty to be transparent and accountable,” said OpenNews Co-Executive Director Sisi Wei. “That’s what we demand of the institutions we cover, so how can we make excuses for not answering those same questions ourselves? News organizations can only give communities what they need with newsrooms that reflect the rich diversity of the people they cover — we know the industry isn’t living up to that mission, and we can’t make progress toward it without measuring what needs to change. Collecting basic data like this is a first and obvious step we can take to serve the communities we work for.”

“The Pulitzer Prizes are the top award in U.S. journalism and this simple requirement would make sure hundreds — if not thousands — of news organizations are transparent about how diverse they are,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “It’s a disgrace that many news organizations refuse to share information about the makeup of their newsrooms.”

“Every crisis offers an opportunity for improvement,” said Meredith D. Clark, an associate professor at Northeastern University who recently stepped down from her role as principal investigator on the project. “The Newsroom Diversity Survey was designed to address the industry’s failure to fully and meaningfully integrate in the late 20th century. We now stand on the legacy of that intention by demanding transparency about the demographics and cultures of our ever-changing news workforce. This information is a critical tool in the ongoing struggle to help U.S. news media fulfill its social responsibility to the people.”

Individual signers and organizations can join the effort to push for diversity transparency in the news industry. We encourage AAJA members, chapters and affinity groups to join, share the letter and advocate to sign on in your newsrooms. Add your name or organization here.

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