Dear friends of MPR News,
At MPR News, we are considering how we may deepen connections and trust with the communities we cover. MPR News has been intentional about our coverage and programming to reflect the vast mosaic of people and experiences that make up Minnesota.
We’ve launched new spaces for conversation — including the In Focus series — which addresses the racial disparities in our state’s systems and structures. We’ve also recently welcomed a Report for America journalist whose coverage will be devoted to Latino communities in our state. The MPR News podcast and learning platform “small change: Money Stories from the Neighborhood” explores the money skills and wisdom of people living with lower and unstable incomes. And through re-broadcasts and conversation, MPR News has lifted up the important work being done by Little Moments Count and MPR with “Early Risers,” a podcast that guides adults in conversations with children about race and racism.
It is our goal to expand our day-to-day coverage offerings to highlight Greater Minnesota – including and beyond the Twin Cities – and to be more intentional about reaching rural communities, young audiences and communities of color.
As a newsroom, we know we have much further to go, both in our coverage and staffing, to be truly reflective of all the communities we cover. We intend to continue making improvements to our newsroom’s practices and coverage as part of this work. As we continue this journey, it is helpful to acknowledge our current staffing composition as we strive to be more inclusive. To that end, I believe it is important that MPR News shares its staffing demographics to foster trust and transparency with our communities. Sharing the demographical data is notably a first for MPR News.
MPR leadership checked in with newsroom staff regarding this effort to quantify the staff demographics of MPR News as a whole. Working in collaboration with Human Resources, we compiled the data of newsroom staff along gender and race based on self-identification. All newsroom staff were given the option to confidentially opt out, yet we had 100 percent participation. We also shared with newsroom staff that MPR News will share this non-identifiable data both internally and publicly.
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On July 26, 2021, MPR News had a staff of 67 full-time and regular part-time employees.
Of those 67 people, 15 identify as people of color and 52 identify as white.
Of those 67 people, 34 identify as female and 33 identify as male.
At present, 22.4 percent of the MPR News staff self-identify as a person of color. This data does not include interns and fellows. We also recognize that there is further nuance to identity and classifications of white people and people of color.
We know this MPR News demographic data set captures data from one moment in time. Our newsroom staffing levels, like all newsrooms, are in flux as we currently have several open positions. We intend to continue this practice of sharing the demographic data of our newsroom staffing to the best of our ability, while respecting the privacy of those who may elect to opt out.
We now have data as a starting point to build upon and improve. We are using this baseline to establish goals for diversifying our newsroom staff to be reflective of our designated market area (DMA) of the Twin Cities and that of the state of Minnesota. Because MPR News is based in the Twin Cities and 2019 U.S. census data indicates that Twin Cities demographics reflect a 30 percent Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) population, MPR News’ overall newsroom staffing goal is to be at least 30 percent people of color and at least half female.
These goals reflect our value of being a newsroom that truly reflects the communities we serve.
Because demographics vary across the state of Minnesota, MPR leadership will continue to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion efforts related to staffing across the state. MPR News leadership will keep our newsroom, American Public Media Group (APMG) colleagues, and our audiences informed of our progress. Also, we are working with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, a local Black Press newspaper, to collaborate, share this data and our commitment with their readers.
Looking ahead, it is my hope that future data sets may include additional self-identifiable information, such as LGBTQIA+, age, and a breakout of ethnic groups so we may continue to work toward a staff makeup that is reflective of the Minnesotan citizenry. I look forward to working alongside MPR President Duchesne Drew to help MPR News lead in ways that move past rhetoric and continue to be substantive and sustainable. It is our shared vision to build a newsroom culture that’s inclusive with an emphasis on both hiring and retention. Ensuring the professional development of our newsroom staff will be a key part of our success, as they are the future of MPR News.
This was a big step, and we are grateful for the internal newsroom partnerships and staff participation. More is to come on all our inclusion efforts in our coverage and communities.
Sarah Glover, MPR News Managing Editor