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What ProPublica Is Doing About Diversity in 2019

Here is our annual report on the breakdown of our staff and how we’re working to create a more diverse newsroom and inclusive journalism community.

ProPublica is committed to increasing the diversity of our workplace as well as of the journalism community more broadly, and each year we publish a report of what we’re doing about it. Here are our posts from 2018, 2017 and 2015.

Our Commitment

We believe that it is crucial to fill our newsroom with people from a broad range of backgrounds, ages and perspectives. We are committed to recruiting and retaining people from communities that have long been underrepresented, not only in journalism, but investigative journalism in particular. That includes African Americans, Latinos, other people of color, women, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

Changes From Last Year

In the past year, here’s what we’ve done to work toward greater diversity at ProPublica and beyond.

  • We formally established a Diversity Committee, co-chaired by Lena Groeger and Liz Sharp. The staff meets once a quarter with the committee, and we have monthly committee meetings to workshop and build on our existing efforts. The committee includes members from across ProPublica, many of whom are volunteering to help.

  • To implement the Rooney Rule — our commitment from last year to interview at least one person of color for every posted job — we created a formal system to track candidates throughout the application and interview process. We were able to track 21 out of our 24 jobs posted in 2018. Of those, about 40 percent of candidates interviewed self-identified as people of color. For any given position, 10 percent to 100 percent of the candidates we interviewed were people of color.

  • We added many new initiatives to our diversity efforts. You can see a full list at the bottom of this post.

A Breakdown of Our Staff

We’ve been hiring — a lot. In 2018, we hired 24 new full-time staff members, half of whom self-identified as people of color, and half were women. Compared with last year, the percentage of all ProPublica staff members who identified as nonwhite increased from 28 percent to 36 percent. In editorial positions, staff members who identified as nonwhite increased from 24 percent to 31 percent. (Roughly 38 percent of Americans are nonwhite.)

We have achieved rough gender parity. For the second year in a row, more women than men work at ProPublica. In editorial positions, men represent 51 percent of the staff. While we still have work to do, we are heartened by these concrete signs of progress.

As we’ve said since 2015, part of our commitment to diversity means being transparent about our own numbers. Here they are:

Race & Ethnicity - All of ProPublica (includes business side and fellows)

White

61%

Hispanic/Latino

9%

Asian

13%

Black

7%

Two+ Races

6%

Other

1%

Don't Wish to Specify

2%

Race & Ethnicity - Newsroom (not including fellows)

White

66%

Hispanic/Latino

8%

Asian

11%

Black

5%

Two+ Races

7%

Other

1%

Don't Wish to Specify

3%

Gender - All of ProPublica

Female

52%

Male

44%

Transgender

1%

Don't Wish to Specify

3%

Gender - Newsroom (not including fellows)

Female

45%

Male

51%

Transgender

1%

Don't Wish to Specify

3%

NOTES: Charts may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding. This is the first year that we have included a "Don't Wish to Specify" category, so some comparisons to past years may be off by 2-3 percentage points. Data is from December 2018.

Our Ongoing Efforts

As we’ve added, formalized or expanded diversity initiatives in the past year, we’ve also been working on how we think about diversity. Over the past year, we’ve been looking at our own efforts in four different ways: building the pipeline (for us, and for all of investigative journalism), recruiting talent, improving our hiring process, and retention. While this is just a start, it’s been incredibly helpful for ProPublica to see where we could be doing more and for individual staff members to identify where and how they’d like to help.

Here’s a list of ongoing efforts:

Building the Pipeline

  • Emerging Reporters Program: This program awards five fellowships a year to students who have demonstrated financial need, and it encourages applications from people with diverse backgrounds. It includes a $9,000 stipend and trips to ProPublica’s New York office and a journalism conference. This is the program’s fourth year, coordinated by Katie Zavadski. Check out our most recent class and find out more about the program.

  • High School Investigative Reporting Unit: An investigative reporting curriculum developed by Jessica Huseman and piloted in Newark, New Jersey, this fall with the help of ProPublica volunteers. The curriculum has been finalized and shared with more than 150 teachers across the United States, who will provide feedback for the final version to be released this summer.

  • Chicago External Mentorships: A ProPublica Illinois initiative that hosts quarterly mentorship sessions with Chicago group Real Chi about FOIA, public records and storytelling, coordinated by Vignesh Ramachandran.

  • Diversity Scholarships: A scholarship program to help student journalists attend conferences, coordinated by Lena Groeger. This is the fourth year of the program, and we are awarding 20 scholarships of $750 each. If you’re interested in attending a conference in 2019, apply soon! The deadline is Feb. 15. More details and instructions on how to apply here.

  • ONA (Online News Association) Diversity Breakfast: An annual breakfast at the ONA conference facilitated by ProPublica and organized by Hannah Birch, which pairs managing editors, executive editors and other leading professionals in the industry with journalists from historically underrepresented communities. This is our fifth year hosting the breakfast — keep an eye out for applications to open this summer!

Recruiting

  • Outreach Trips: A team to coordinate visits by ProPublica journalists to schools across the country, especially historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions with journalism programs.

  • Scouting Suggestions Form: An internal system for ProPublica employees to nominate great candidates for jobs and keep track of top candidates from past searches.

  • Affinity Conferences: A team to coordinate and encourage ProPublica presence, participation and events at affinity conferences like NAHJ, NABJ, AAJA, NAJA and NLGJA.

Hiring

  • Standardized Job Applications: We use specific and consistent wording/questions in our application materials.

  • Application Process Data Collection: We gather data about race, gender and how candidates heard about the position to better understand who’s making it through interviews and look at the makeup of our overall applicant pool.

  • Rooney Rule: As we pointed out above, we require that hiring managers interview at least one person of color for every position.

Retention

  • ProPublica Peer Partnership Program: An internal program that matches ProPublicans with a mentor or peer partner to meet each other, develop new skills and have someone to turn to for help navigating workplace or career questions.

Interested in Working Here?

ProPublica is currently hiring. Here is our jobs page, where we post new full-time positions, and here’s our fellowships page. At the bottom of either page, you can sign up to be automatically notified of when we have a job or fellowship available. Plus, as part of our 2018 efforts to make our hiring process more transparent and a better experience for candidates, signing up for job notifications lets you opt-in to some other helpful emails from us, on topics like: what ProPublica looks for in applicants, scholarships and trainings, and free resources for journalists looking to develop new skills.

Protect Independent Journalism

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that produces nonpartisan, evidence-based journalism to expose injustice, corruption and wrongdoing. We were founded ten years ago to fill a growing hole in journalism: newsrooms were (and still are) shrinking, and legacy funding models failing. Deep-dive reporting like ours is slow and expensive, and investigative journalism is a luxury in many newsrooms today — but it remains as critical as ever to democracy and our civic life. A decade (and five Pulitzer Prizes) later, ProPublica has built the largest investigative newsroom in the country. Our work has spurred reform through legislation, at the voting booth, and inside our nation’s most important institutions.

This story you’ve just finished was funded by our readers and we hope it inspires you to make a gift to ProPublica so that we can publish more investigations like this one that holds people in power to account and produces real change.

Your donation will help us ensure that we can continue this critical work. From the Trump Administration, criminal justice, health care, immigration and so much more, we are busier than ever covering stories you won’t see anywhere else. Make your gift of any amount today and join the tens of thousands of ProPublicans across the country, standing up for the power of independent journalism to produce real, lasting change. Thank you.

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Portrait of Lena V. Groeger

Lena V. Groeger

Lena V. Groeger is a journalist/developer/designer at ProPublica, where she makes interactive graphics and other data-driven projects.

Portrait of Liz Sharp

Liz Sharp

Liz Sharp is ProPublica’s human resources manager.

Portrait of Sisi Wei

Sisi Wei

Sisi Wei is the assistant managing editor at ProPublica, where she edits a team of investigative journalists/developers who build interactive stories to serve the public interest.

Portrait of Stephen Engelberg

Stephen Engelberg

Stephen Engelberg is ProPublica's editor-in-chief and served as founding managing editor from 2008–2012.

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