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Diversity Equality Inclusion write on a


Science-based DEI training and interventions

American people of all races and ethnicities want to trust the public media to represent their stories accessibly and equitably. Public media employees deserve to be fairly heard when proposing and presenting news of interest to a wide variety of communities. Yet research has shown that public media outlets fare no better than their commercial counterparts—in persistently airing stories that appeal to an ever-shrinking white demographic, and in exposure to claims of bias and unfair treatment of employees. Headway, a 501 (c)(3) led by an award-winning journalist and industry veteran, is determined to work with public broadcasters to help them understand, address, and remediate this situation. As we launch, your aid will enable us to create a carefully structured, compassionately guided, and technically advanced program to serve newsrooms of all sizes. Our organizations objectives include:

  1. Develop and deliver tailored programs of training sessions to management and employees alike that will help them confront and overcome implicit racist attitudes.

  2. Sustain momentum by remaining engaged with station leadership to encourage progress, help with concerns, and quantitatively measure improvement over time.

  3. Moderate regular discussions of race and equity focused on problem-solving, and train people to become Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) change facilitators in their workplaces.

  4. Create and annually update videos, worksheets, and downloadable information for our program participants to access for their DEI work.

Headway’s plan for anti-racist reform was outlined in the open letter published on January 18, 2021. Making DEI training and resources available to all leaders and employees in public is the next step in the effort to make the industry more equitable and inclusive.

In the past couple of years, there have been public allegations of bias, harassment, and abuse at dozens of stations and networks.[i] Beyond the impact on individuals who are subject to mistreatment in these workplaces, there is also a real danger that public radio’s reputation could be severely damaged, posing challenges to fundraising.  

As union members at the network wrote in a statement issued last year, “In the 50 years since its founding, NPR has failed to fully reflect the public it serves, and the persistent and overwhelming whiteness of NPR’s staff and management has prevented NPR from achieving its stated mission.” 

Stations have had limited success in their communication about DEI issues with staff members, and many employees have taken to social media to express their frustrations. Many executives have not been trained in how to talk about issues of race and equity in a constructive way. 

Our industry has been working on this problem for decades and it has been nearly ten years since CPB began requiring stations to publish diversity statements in order to qualify for grants. The tactics we have used so far have not worked.  

Headway offers a better way forward, based on the input of hundreds of current and former employees of public media, combined with the most current research available.  

In Spring of 2021, Headway was awarded a grant from the Ford Foundation to help scale up our efforts and build our programs. 

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