Free training to help journalists improve source diversity

The Madison Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists is hosting a free training session on April 21 to help journalists improve their source diversity. The session will be led by WPR’s Hannah Haynes.

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Local journalists are invited to learn how to conduct a source audit to assess the range of voices featured in their coverage and make plans for more inclusive reporting during a free virtual training session hosted by SPJ Madison on April 21.

The session — the first in a series of diversity, equity and inclusion programming that’ll stretch over the remainder of the year — will be led by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Hannah Haynes.

Haynes was instrumental in WPR’s efforts to track the demographics of every source who was interviewed and appeared on air for a news story, feature, talk show or included in a Wisconsin Life piece. At a time when many journalists are striving to make their coverage better represent the communities they serve, Haynes will offer other journalists a behind-the-scenes look at how her team did it — and what they learned.

Following a year-long internal review process, WPR published in September 2020 a demographic assessment of more than 3,700 individuals who appeared on air between August 2019 and July 2020. The assessment found an overwhelming majority of those sources were white.

The results prompted WPR to develop a plan for improvement that included creating a source librarian to work with reporters to “improve the demographic diversity of people on air,” WPR wrote in its report. Read the full report and review the survey findings here.

Haynes, during an April 21 online discussion from 12 to 1 p.m., will discuss WPR’s source audit process, highlight the outlet’s findings and recommendations, and outline how other newsrooms — or individual reporters themselves — can undertake their own audits.

And, for reporters and editors interested in what they can do outside of a newsroom-wide initiative, SPJ board member and Cap Times reporter Natalie Yahr will also share simple methods she has used to independently audit her own reporting.

Those interested in attending can register for the free event here. Registration closes on Friday, April 16 at 5 p.m.

The upcoming event is one of three online trainings that SPJ Madison will host over the remainder of the year focused on giving reporters the tools to rethink how they approach and prioritize their beats.

More information about upcoming events, designed to help reporters and others promote diversity and inclusion in their coverage, will be announced in the coming weeks.

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