New Tools for Funders: Supporting DEI in Journalism

By Angelica Das, Democracy Fund, and Katie Donnelly and Michelle Polyak, Dot Connector Studio
October 24, 2019

As part of Democracy Fund’s efforts to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in journalism, Dot Connector Studio has developed two tools — the Journalism DEI Tracker and the Journalism DEI Wheel — to help funders and journalists understand the complete landscape of the field, including resources and strategies for advancing DEI within journalism.

Our recent report, Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Journalism: What Funders Can Do, revealed that DEI within journalism is an under-funded area, and recommended that funders share more resources on this topic across a diverse pool of grantees. These two tools are designed to help funders do just that. The Journalism DEI Tracker catalogs information and resources on DEI in journalism, and the Journalism DEI Wheel allows funders and stakeholders to focus on particular solutions for advancing DEI within journalism by demonstrating the range of strategies and focus areas to consider.

To put it simply, the Journalism DEI Tracker tracks the who and the what of the field; the Journalism DEI Wheel captures the how.

1. The Journalism DEI Tracker

A screenshot of the DEI Tracker

The Journalism DEI Tracker includes:

  • Professional organizations that support women journalists and journalists of color
  • News outlets and projects led by and serving women journalists and journalists of color
  • Professional development and training opportunities for women journalists and journalists of color (grants, scholarships, fellowships, and leadership training)
  • Academic institutions with journalism and communications programs to include in recruitment efforts to ensure a more diverse pipeline (Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges)
  • Resources for journalism organizations to promote respectful and inclusive coverage (industry reports, diversity style guides, curricula, and toolkits)

2. The Journalism DEI Wheel

Each area is divided into smaller points of intervention. For example, if you click on “Education/Training,” you will see opportunities to advance DEI in journalism through high school programs, college programs, scholarships, internships, fellowships, mid-career programs, and executive training. Click on any one of these to learn more and find specific examples, including lists of relevant initiatives on the Journalism DEI Tracker.

A screenshot of the Journalism DEI Wheel

The Journalism DEI Wheel demonstrates that there are many areas for addressing DEI in journalism. A funder may be focused on one aspect — say, improving news coverage — but not considering other aspects that may be related, such as improving newsroom culture. Of course, no single funder can — or should! — address every possible point of intervention, but viewing the range of possibilities can help illuminate gaps in current portfolios and identify new opportunities.

Not all areas are equally resourced. For example, there is a dearth of publicly-available resources available for journalism organizations when it comes to DEI in hiring, leadership, and general organizational culture. This is particularly disconcerting when we know that there are well-documented leadership gaps in the broader nonprofit field for people of color, women, and LGBTQ individuals. There is a clear need for leaders of DEI-focused journalism organizations to have up-to-date information on not just legal requirements, but also best practices in hiring, evaluation, and promotion. And, as our recent report shows, there is a clear need for funders to support such efforts.

We hope you will use these tools to inform your work, spark conversations among colleagues, and continue to promote this critically important work. We welcome your feedback: let us know how the tools are working for you, and how we can continue to improve them.

Democracy Fund
1200 17th Street NW Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20036