Public Radio Inclusion: First, We Must “Do The Numbers”

APMG's MissionSubmitted by Linda Miller

Director, Network Journalism and Inclusion

At American Public Media, we understand our viability depends on our ability to rapidly expand efforts to become as relevant to emerging audiences as we are to our loyal listeners and members today, and to ensure that the faces, voices and programming of Minnesota Public Radio are inclusive of the communities and individuals who call our state and country home.

As part of that effort, we recently hired Eric Garcia McKinley to the newly created position of Senior Research Analyst for Engagement and Inclusion, a position funded through the American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellows program.

Starting Aug. 1, McKinley will help us develop and implement a system to measure and track the race, gender, age, religion and political persuasion of news sources throughout both broadcast and digital MPRNews content, and to grow, diversify, and use the Public Insight Network (PIN) to drive more inclusive content and programming.

McKinley has a PhD in history from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During his interviews, he demonstrated a deep commitment to data-driven analysis, diversity and inclusion in his research, teaching and writing, as well as a passion for storytelling, context and the broad mission of public media.

Our goal is not to build a bigger network of sources. It’s to know whose voices are being included and excluded and to use this research as a catalyst for a broader conversation about what topics we choose to cover, who we choose to hire, the importance of cultural competence, and how we can and must do better.

As NPR’s chief diversity officer, Keith Woods, so aptly put it: [Public media’s] diversity deficit may be a complex problem, but the path to solving it is pretty clear: Find out how we’re doing, figure out why it’s turning out that way and do something bold to change it.”

In the article below, Keith describes the myriad of factors that play into public radio’s diversity deficit in clear terms. Clear, but not easy. Read on for a system-wide perspective on what’s needed for public radio to truly serve the public

Focus on sources’ race won’t be enough to close public radio’s diversity deficit