Nonprofit newsrooms, founded as public trusts with a mission of public service, have the opportunity to reinvent news media as inclusive representatives of the communities they serve.
INN is committed to reflecting, in our organization and our work, the full breadth of the U.S. communities that we serve, directly and through the news organizations that form our network.
These nonprofit newsrooms serve as watchdogs of the rights of every person, and the free speech and civil rights of every person living in this democracy. Because they put journalism before profit, nonprofit news outlets more often report from and for communities that commercial news media have abandoned as unprofitable. INN is committed to helping mission-driven news organizations reach the goal of a truly inclusive news media, and to live it in our own work here at INN.
Diversity is part of INN’s mission and vision. We are in the process of weaving it throughout all of our strategies and programming, and it has been a specific focus within our leadership development programs.
INN grew from a staff of six in 2015, then all white, to a staff of 21 as of February 2023.
In this time of rapid growth for the field, INN has been able to increase the diversity of our staff and board, and we intend to continue this trend in order to better reflect the country we serve. INN had been aiming for a board and staff representation of 35% people of color. Anticipating what we expect the next census to show, we’re now aiming to reflect a population that is roughly 60% white and 40% Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).
As of February 2023, based on survey responses from 19 out of 21 full-time employees, INN’s staff is 63% white and 37% people of color, including people who identify as Black, Latino, Asian and Middle Eastern/North African. Among the five members of INN’s senior management team, 60% are white and 40% are people of color. About 80% of our staff, including senior managers, are women.
Looking at other measures of diversity, 15% of INN staff identify as LGBTQIA+ and one person identified as disabled. None are veterans.
INN’s Board of Directors is comprised of individuals elected to represent our member organizations and those from outside our network who are known for their strong commitment to investigative journalism and/or who bring broader expertise to help INN achieve its mission. In February 2023, a survey completed by 10 out of 12 board members indicated that 30% are BIPOC and 70% are white. The directors are 40% female and 20% LGBTQIA+. No directors identified as disabled or veterans.
At the end of 2020, based on data from our annual Index survey, INN’s 285 publishing members included about 100 with people of color in executive leadership roles (that generally means in the top business, editorial or overall leadership positions). About 108 of our members serve communities of color as part of their broader audience, including about 50 that define their primary mission as creating content for, about, and/or with communities of color.
For more details, see our last DEI report: INN Index 2020: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Nonprofit News. The next in-depth Index data on DEI will be published in mid-2023.
When INN began tracking member diversity in 2016, we found eight out of roughly 100 member organizations that had leaders of color and/or primarily served communities of color. So the diversity of our membership has outpaced overall growth over the last five years, but still isn’t equitable with the overall population.
It’s worth noting that INN was formed as a league of investigative newsrooms, committed to challenge power and reach beyond official sources to cover and amplify the voices of people outside of power. Many report on social and equity issues that disproportionately impact people of color in the U.S., such as access to education, housing, health care disparities and equal justice under the law. This coverage matters to communities of color, but differs from what is measured here. INN does not include these outlets in diversity counts unless their publications primarily serve under-represented communities, rather than a general audience.
Looking at gender, INN took a snapshot of nonprofit news leadership by gender in 2016 and again at the end of 2020. In nonprofit news, a majority of nonprofit news leaders — founders, executive directors, top editors — are women. That has held across the five-year span. It tells us that gender diversity in nonprofit news has diverged dramatically from traditional media, where leadership remains dominated by white men. Our aim is to see the same dramatic improvement in racial and ethnic diversity.
INN has not consistently tracked veteran status, age, disabilities or LGBTQA status across our membership. Beginning in 2020, we made it easier for members to track and benchmark compensation through a national study that segments members by geography, focus and size of operations.
INN added diversity, equity and inclusion to its strategic goals in 2019 and the following to the policies it asks all members to adopt:
Equity and Inclusion: This news organization aims to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves in its staff and contributors, its editorial choices and priorities.
INN made three other commitments in 2019 to advancing DEI in our field:
More broadly, we seek to incorporate the values of diversity, equity and inclusion in our programmatic and fundraising efforts:
Of key importance to the future of public service journalism, INN works to expand membership diversity through programs including:
Inspired by the racial justice protests of 2020, INN has begun a series of internal discussions among staff and board members about how to further advance diversity, equity and inclusion in our work. We are committed to regularly re-examining our own practices and updating policies and practices and creating a formal diversity plan.
INN is committed to going further with this work, faster. That means we’ll be continually looking at our own operations, holding ourselves accountable for improving the equity and inclusion of INN itself and of the field we support.
Do you have an idea, request, constructive criticism, potential partnership to share? We welcome input. Please email Executive Director Sue Cross or any of the INN team.Back to top