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Learning what works for DEI in journalism: new case study series will share tactics

February 10, 2023

Many people across the journalism sector are talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, but what are news organizations doing about it and, most importantly, what tactics are effective in building work cultures where more people are included and treated equitably?

The Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) is teaming up with the Diversity Pledge Institute (DPI) to explore how nonprofit news organizations are building more diverse, more equitable and more inclusive places to work. 

This research is a part of INN’s forthcoming INN Index Report 2023, which will include data from our annual survey of the independent news organizations that are members of INN, with a deep dive into diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the nonprofit news sector.

Photo of Larry Graham, founder of Diversity Pledge Institute
Larry Graham, founder and executive director of the Diversity Pledge Institute, says the partnership will allow us to “identify potential paths forward to greater diversity throughout journalism.”

“We’re very optimistic about the trends we see by nonprofit newsrooms to diversify their staffs and specifically, the transparency and trust exhibited by the INN survey participants,” said Larry Graham, a career journalist who founded DPI in 2021. “That’s just one of many reasons we’re excited to partner with INN to identify potential paths forward to greater diversity throughout journalism.”

Last month, more than 90% of INN’s membership completed the INN Index survey, allowing INN to combine knowledge of broad sector trends with DPI’s expertise in organizational evaluation and research to generate a series of case studies highlighting the tactics nonprofit news leaders and staff members are taking, and what happened as a result. 

Cases will include lessons learned, strategic considerations, and links to resources and training opportunities. The INN Index 2023 and case studies will be published in summer 2023. 

Questions to explore

We’re about to jump into the data and identify early themes we’d like to better understand through this case study series. In this first round, we’ll pay more attention to efforts focused on equity and inclusion by moving away from checkbox diversity and towards understanding and implementing DEI as a value system. A few of our early questions include:

Share your questions and ideas

What sort of actionable information on DEI data and practices would be helpful for you or your news organization? How can and should we share what we discover, or hold space to discuss these findings? Do you have any questions about our work? Please let us know by sending a note to INN’s research director, Emily Roseman, at

Our approach to the research

We’ll start by combing through INN’s latest Index survey data and DPI’s assessment data to understand the primary challenges or barriers news outlets face in improving diversity, equity, and/or inclusion, and the capacity-building support or resources that could help outlets address these challenges or barriers. We’ll also look at the common tactics employed by news organizations. 

INN and DPI will reach out to four nonprofit news organizations that we believe can illustrate the sector’s major challenges and opportunities related to DEI. We’ll ask each organization to complete DPI’s DEI assessment and evaluation tool and participate in focus groups led by DPI. 

This tool moves beyond demographic audits and shifts to more meaningful measures, including: 

Data from DPI’s assessment, the focus groups and INN’s Index will inform the scope and topics of the case studies. Additionally, participating organizations will receive an anonymized copy of their data as well as access to additional opportunities to engage in more in-depth evaluations. 

About the Diversity Pledge Institute (DPI)

The Diversity Pledge Institute is a group of professionals with decades of experience across industries committed to solving the diversity pipeline problem in journalism by improving retention rates associated with diversity, equity and inclusion; and supporting journalists’ career growth.

About the Index

The INN Index is the annual census of more than 400 news organizations that are members of the Institute for Nonprofit News. Since 2018, members have completed the survey in a commitment to collective transparency and contribution to the nonprofit news sector. Their participation in the Index generates knowledge, benchmarking data and support for the rapidly growing field.

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