The Front Page: Journalism awards need diverse judges

Issue 49: AAJA Voices investigates four awards’ boards.

It’s Friday, August 12th.

Despite being awarded for 105 years, the Pulitzer Prizes’ first judge who wasn’t a white man joined the board only 43 years ago, a fact which the organization has addressed. However, an AAJA Voices investigation reveals the Prizes — as well as three other prestigious awards — still have work to do.

In surveying 66 judges of the Pulitzer Prizes, the Gerald Loeb Awards, the Livingston Awards, and the Peabody Awards, the Voices 2022 investigative team found that non-white judges are underrepresented on nearly every panel.

Notably, of 43 judges the team was able to confirm race and ethnicity for, only one identified as Middle Eastern and only one as Native American. Additionally, results showed that the Livingston Awards roster lacks a single Asian American national judge, and only one Black judge in the Loeb Awards’ final board.

Unfortunately, because only one organization shared aggregate demographic data with the investigative team, most data collection relied on individual judges’ responses. Though it may be uncomfortable for the awards to collect — and subsequently address — this information, doing so allows industry peers to examine gaps and demand change.

Ultimately, receiving a major award often offers legitimacy to stories that have been historically underrepresented, and the presence of diverse judges can ensure that diverse journalists are not overlooked. 

“If this is the way that the internal feedback loop and recognition and merit are owed, let’s make sure it’s the most inclusive and is expansive enough to fit everyone that we want to see working in the field and the stories,” Leah Rush told the team. 

Read the full investigation by Bahar Ostadan, Samson Zhang, Yiwen Lu, Omar Rashad, and Brammhi Balarajan here

Supporting democracy is about more than a slogan

Our Democracy Correspondent will look at how some U.S. newsrooms aren’t taking threats to democracy and rising authoritarianism seriously — and what we can do to push back. But we’re a small newsroom with a small budget. Will you help us raise $20,000 so we can expand our pro-democracy coverage?

— Holly Rosewood


A Bit More Media

Q&A: Steven Thrasher — Last week, Juwan Holmes spoke with Dr. Steven Thrasher, author of The Viral Underclass, released this month. Thrasher, also a professor and journalist, shares his thoughts on objectivity, media coverage of pandemics, and teaching the next generation of journalists in the full Q&A.

“Too Much Native News?” — In a conversation with IndieGraf, Annelise Pierce and Marc Dadigan explain Shasta Scout’s editorial philosophy and the importance of Indigenous perspectives in local news. “Native peoples are part of our communities. They aren’t a separate equity or diversity beat,” says Pierce. 

Civic Media Guidebook — The Listening Post Collective has launched a new website and a new playbook. The interactive course contains five modules, mentorship, and access to a community roadmap. If you use the playbook to build a project that serves a BIPOC or immigrant audience, you may also qualify for a microgrant from the Collective

Spot the difference, internship edition — Ideally, pushing back against unpaid journalism internships will inspire outlets to end the exploitative practice. However, one podcast company has seemingly rebranded its unpaid internship as a training… that costs $4,000. Read more about the “apprenticeship” in Skye Pillsbury’s newsletter.

Accountability for some — Despite a supposed commitment to exposing injustice, legacy media is reluctant to address internal failures, writes Allison Hantschel. Specifically, she argues, the firing of Felicia Sonmez and Erin Overby by the Washington Post and the New Yorker, respectively, reveals a greater commitment to the status quo.

Newsroom unions by the numbers — According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, approximately one-in-six journalists report that they’re in a union. 41% of respondents, all of which work at least part time at a news outlet, reported that they would join a union if one was available. Moreover, non-white journalists are more likely to be part of a union.


Stay Up To Date

12 days until … The Youth Mental Health Crisis. This webinar from the Center for Health Journalism offers guidance for reporting on mental health and related services. 

13 days until … NAJA’s 2022 National Native Media Conference. The three-day convention in Phoenix will also include content for virtual registrants and members.

17 days until … Chef Showcase 2022. AAJA Seattle hosts this in-person benefit event featuring local chefs, a silent auction, and more.

What else should we feature? You tell us. Send an email to [email protected].


A few more resources

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | JournalismJobs.com | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | Freelance Journalist Rates | Source Jobs | Opportunities of the Week ($)   

How about a style guide? Trans Journalist Association | Diversity Style Guide | Tribal Nations Media Guide | NABJ Style Guide | Disability Language Style Guide | AAJA Guide to Covering Asian Pacific America | NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook |  SPJ Race & Gender Hotline | AMEJA Media Resource Guide | The Press in Prison

Thanks for reading our newsletter. If you’re new, you can subscribe here

If you like what you read, we could use your support. Your contribution will go directly to our writers, editors, and any fees required for us to operate. 

We’ll have more for you soon. 

This issue is by Holly Rosewood with editing by Curtis Yee.

Help us hold legacy media accountable

The daily news cycle fails to paint a picture of continued threats to our democracy. Will you help us reach our $20,000 stretch goal so we can expand our pro-democracy coverage?

Democracy isn’t up for debate

Our Democracy Correspondent will look at how some newsrooms aren’t taking threats to voting rights and authoritarianism seriously. Will you help us reach our $20,000 stretch goal so we can expand our pro-democracy reporting?

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