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Diversity gains in nonprofit news sector: new report

October 24, 2023

Racial and ethnic diversity across the nonprofit news sector increased between 2020 and 2022, according to research from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN). The INN Index 2023: Report on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Nonprofit News Sector, released today, indicates that the racial and ethnic makeup of staff at nonprofit news organizations — while varying from outlet to outlet — largely reflects the U.S. population and is more diverse than the news industry overall.  Greater gains in racial and ethnic diversity have been made at the staff level than at the leadership level. Looking at nonprofit news staff through a gender lens, INN saw that women continue to hold about half of positions at nonprofit newsrooms and an even greater percentage of management and executive roles. All news organizations surveyed are members of the INN Network, which now has more than 425 members across North America.

As recent research has highlighted disparities in philanthropic support for organizations led by Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), INN sought to explore how this affected members of the INN Network. INN found that BIPOC-led outlets — particularly startups and those covering state and local issues — reported a higher median amount of foundation funding than white-led counterparts. But among the cohort of national outlets, particularly the older organizations, the reverse is true, with white-led outlets reporting higher levels of funding. (An interpretation of these findings is explored in the revenue analysis section of the DEI Index Report.)

INN’s 2023 DEI Index Report shows a little more than a quarter (28%) of outlets reported an increase in BIPOC representation among executives and managers, while the remaining outlets either stayed the same or reported a decrease in the percentage of leaders who are BIPOC.

INN identified a disconnect between goals and practice, with more than half of newsrooms setting goals for improving diversity but far fewer creating a plan of action for achieving DEI goals or allocating resources for evaluating progress. 

“This research shows promising signs of progress in efforts to increase diversity and also equity and inclusion in nonprofit news organizations, but we believe there is still a great deal to be done,” said Sue Cross, executive director & CEO of INN. “We’re going to need more investment in organizations led by and serving people of color as well as faster adoption of DEI practices by news organizations of all sizes.” 

INN’s five recommendations for how funders, news organizations and INN and its peers can continue to advance DEI across the field were also published today. 

Some of the key findings from the INN Index 2023 DEI Report:


DEI practices:


Read the full INN Index DEI Report.

INN’s Index reports are sponsored by the Google News Initiative (GNI). 

Index reports are also made possible thanks to INN donors, the Knight Foundation and INN’s general support funders, which include Arnold Ventures, Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, Battery Powered, Democracy Fund, GA News Lab, Hubbard Family Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, Nan H. Altmayer Charitable Trust, Present Progressive Fund, PCLB Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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