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. This is the report for 2022; here are all our past reports.
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 particularly in investigative journalism. That includes African Americans, Latinos, other people of color, women, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.
ProPublica has continued to expand, growing from 137 full-time employees at the start of 2021 to 160 in 2022, largely due to the launch of regional units in the South and Southwest and the expansion of our Midwest office. In addition to our talent recruitment efforts, mentorship opportunities and financial stipends, many of ProPublica’s diversity efforts this year continued to be internal, focused on onboarding and staff development.
The Diversity Committee comprises more than 50 ProPublicans who volunteer their time to work on initiatives that are pitched and run by the staff. The current co-chairs are Caroline Chen, Vianna Davila, Melissa Sanchez and Liz Sharp.
Breakdown of Our Staff
As with last year, we tracked candidates through the application and interview process. Out of 50 positions filled in 2021, 55% of the candidates we interviewed identified as women, and 47% identified as being part of a racial/ethnic group other than solely non-Hispanic white. Of those we hired, 45% identified as women and 44% as being part of a racial/ethnic group other than solely non-Hispanic white.
The percentage of all ProPublica staff members who identified as solely non-Hispanic white was 59%, the same as last year. In editorial positions, staff members who identified as solely non-Hispanic white also stayed the same as last year, at 58%.
For the fourth year in a row, more women than men work at ProPublica. In editorial positions, women represented 51% of the staff.
As we’ve said since 2015, part of our commitment to diversity means being transparent about our own numbers. Here are the breakdowns:
Note: The data is based on employees’ self-reported information. Recognizing that some people may identify as more than one race but not identify as a person of color, from this year onward we are stating these numbers in terms of people who “solely identify as non-Hispanic white.” We hope this will provide more specificity and accuracy. In previous years, we have sometimes given statistics with the term “people of color.” To better compare current data to previous years, ProPublica used employee information as of Jan. 1, which was not the date used in the 2021 annual report; as a result, figures for 2021 differ from what was previously reported. Managers are defined as staff members who supervise other people and do not include all editors. Percentages may not add up to 100 because of rounding.
Our Ongoing Efforts
We think about our efforts in the following ways: building the pipeline (for us and for all of investigative journalism), recruiting talent and improving our hiring process, and inclusion and retention. As the pandemic continued to disrupt our ability to carry out many in-person diversity initiatives, ProPublica has continued to offer virtual training and development opportunities:
- The conference subcommittee, led by Maya Miller and Irena Hwang, partnered with Journalism Mentors in the lead-up to the summer conference season. Twenty ProPublica staff members provided affinity conference attendees with general advice or portfolio reviews. The partnership was so successful that we decided to keep it active outside of the traditional conference season. (Interested in signing up for a session? You can do so here.)
- In June 2021, Ellis Simani, Irena Hwang and former ProPublica staffer Beena Raghavendran continued a career-building webinar for “alumni,” current members and selected finalists of ProPublica programs (Conference Stipends, Data Institute and Emerging Reporters) to hear from our staff about topics including journalism ethics, burnout and side-hustles. ProPublica is working on a similar virtual gathering for 2022.
- Diversity Committee Office Hours: We have continued to offer a casual hangout on Zoom twice a month where ProPublicans can chat with the Diversity Committee co-chairs to brainstorm about diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, ask questions about ProPublica’s ongoing DEI programs or chat about diversity-related concerns in a more intimate setting outside of the monthly committee meetings.
Building the Pipeline
- Conference Stipends: ProPublica offers funding to help student journalists attend conferences. This effort is coordinated by Mollie Simon, Ash Ngu and Adriana Gallardo. In the sixth year of the program, we teamed up with The Pudding to award 25 stipends of $750 each. Because of the pandemic, we also gave students the option to use the money for journalism-related expenses in addition to online conference expenses. Apply for this year’s stipend here.
- Emerging Reporters Program: This program provides stipends and mentorship to six students who have demonstrated financial need and encourages applications from people with diverse backgrounds. The program includes a $9,000 stipend and admission to a journalism conference. This is the program’s seventh year, and it is coordinated by Talia Buford. Check out our most recent class and find out more about the program.
- ONA (Online News Association) Diversity Breakfast: An annual breakfast at the ONA conference, facilitated by Ruth Baron, Karim Doumar and former ProPublica staffer Beena Raghavendran, pairs managing editors, executive editors and other leading professionals in the industry with journalists from historically underrepresented communities. For the past two years, we have hosted a virtual breakfast at the conference and plan to keep doing so, whether in person or virtually, this year.
- Chicago External Mentorships: Quarterly mentorship sessions with The Real Chi, a Chicago-based learning newsroom powered by young reporters and editors ages 18 to 25 that cover the city’s West and South sides. Led by Duaa Eldeib and Tony Briscoe, workshops include sessions about public records, fact checking and investigative reporting.
- Outreach Trips: A team coordinates visits, in person or by Zoom, by ProPublica journalists to schools across the country, especially historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions with journalism programs. Contact Topher Sanders if you’d like us to visit your school virtually or in person, once we’re able to do so safely.
Recruiting and Hiring
- Rooney Rule: We require that hiring managers interview at least one person who does not self-identify as solely non-Hispanic white. In addition, we have made it explicit that every application must be read by at least two people.
- Application Process Data Analysis: We gather and analyze data about our job, fellowship and Local Reporting Network candidates to better understand who’s making it to the interview stage and look at the makeup of our overall applicant pool.
- Affinity Conferences: Our conference subcommittee coordinates and encourages ProPublica presence, participation and events at affinity conferences such as NAHJ, NABJ and AAJA. The subcommittee spent the year reassessing its budget and relationships with affinity groups, and its members are excited to be entering 2022 with more opportunities to engage in conferences as a result.
Inclusion and Retention
- Unconscious Bias Training: In 2021, ProPublica hired Paradigm Reach to conduct ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion training with staff, including mandatory training for all managers.
- ProPublica Peer Partnership Program: This is an internal program organized by Jodi Cohen and Lisa Song 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.
- Welcoming New Hires and Focusing on Internal Culture: Following a year of expansion and rapid hiring at ProPublica, two new subcommittees, led by Michael Grabell and Ariana Tobin, were formed to think about how to improve the news organization’s onboarding process and how to be more inclusive and equitable in our newsroom.
- Rethinking Language Around Identity: An ad hoc subcommittee led by Melissa Sanchez was created to discuss best practices for language in job application forms and other ProPublica internal documents to allow people to identify themselves most accurately.
Interested in Working Here?
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 when we have a job or fellowship available.