2021: The year we hold newsrooms accountable for racial equity

Leaders who are resistant to dismantling institutional norms and traditions will be left behind.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

We must continue to hold our leaders accountable when it comes to racial equity in newsrooms. When the coverage about the unjust killings of Black and Brown people in the U.S. begins to fade, that’s when true leadership is exposed. It’s in these moments when the spotlight is off that reveals one’s true commitment to change.

In 2021, I see young and emerging newsroom leaders stepping up and re-centering conversations about news strategy, funding and hiring with equity at the forefront. Journalists who understand and model this will become leaders.

The same has always held true: Newsrooms that do not reflect the communities they serve — from identity, class, race and ethnicity, to lived experiences and shared values — cannot authentically establish a level of connection with them.

The clock has run out for excuses. We are going to witness our “pillars of truth” erode if we can’t build this level of trust and connection with our communities.

Most importantly, advocating for diversity in newsrooms is needed to provide opportunities for people from historically marginalized groups to create journalism and connect with the communities they know deeply and are a part of. It’s also the only strategy that I believe will keep newsrooms in business in the future.

We know journalism has a trust issue, and to begin to make up for that, newsroom leaders must be transparent about historical racism in the media, past transgressions and journalistic misdoings, hire and more importantly, promote journalists from a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences, and truly consider equity at every decision-making opportunity.

The journalists who lead with equity, empathy and understanding will reshape the industry. Those who are resistant to dismantling institutional norms and traditions will be left behind.