The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced a $1.2 million investment in the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Emeryville, California, to help local news organizations make the structural changes needed to build more equitable, diverse, and inclusive newsrooms.
Part of the foundation's $300 million initiative dedicated to building the future of local news, the funding will be used to establish an equity and inclusion transformation program built on the institute's existing diversity training curriculum. Through the initiative, specialists will be embedded in local news organizations and will be tasked with assessing their internal processes, cultural dynamics, and content. Working with individual outlets, the institute will help create strategies, plans, benchmarks, and training around the core workplace values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The initiative will be piloted in two organizations for six months, with the first to be conducted in partnership with the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative and the second to be selected through a competitive application process. The grant also will be used to establish a consulting arm affiliated with the Maynard Institute and support the institute's ongoing work, including participation in the Knight-Lenfest initiative.
"Given where we are in the discourse around our national politics, I cannot think of a more important initiative than this," said Maynard Institute co-executive director Martin G. Reynolds. "News organizations have been coming up short for decades on achieving the goals set forth by [the American Society of News Editors] to have diversity in newsrooms reflect the diversity of the nation. If we are to survive as an industry, the stories we produce and the customers we seek to serve must see themselves accurately reflected. We must rebuild trust and relationships. To do that, we must start with ourselves, our newsrooms, and our institutions."