A WFAE public forum with Mayor Vi Lyles at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture

A lot of the work has already been done

The evidence is overwhelming that lack of diversity and inclusion in journalism not only perpetuates stereotypes and media distrust, but also limits which stories get told, how they are told, and whose voices are heard.

Based on the pre-training survey responses, many reporters believe including diverse voices ensures more accurate and complete stories that more fully reflect and inform readers. However, these same reporters also acknowledge that they don’t have a readily available network of diverse sources and tight deadlines make it hard to find them. That’s why knowing where to look and establishing your own source list is key.

A lot of the work has already been done

Since there’s nothing new under the sun, it stands to reason that there are already a lot of widely available databases for finding diverse sources. These are just a few.

People of Color Also Know Stuff includes a database of experts in various fields, including political science, psychology, and public health along with their professional affiliations, research interests, and contact information.

Diverse Sources is a searchable database of scientific experts from underrepresented communities.

Search NPR’s Source of the Week database alphabetically or by location for experts from underrepresented racial and ethic groups in any field you can imagine.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) connects journalists with experts and sources. Specify the type of expert or real person you’re looking for and your request will be distributed among HARO’s thousands of subscribers for a response.

The Database of Diverse Databases is the mother of all databases. Curated by editors of color, no matter what kind of expert you’re seeking — health, medicine, music, photography, political science, food — you’re likely to find him or her here.

Build your own database

Most non-profits, trade groups, churches and community service organizations have hundreds of members, many of whom are eager to speak with the media to get their message out. Identify the ones in your area and connect with them depending on your need.

Since Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the democratic vice presidential nominee, more Americans are probably learning about HBCUs and Black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities for the first time. Harris, a graduate of Howard University, touts her membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, one of nine such organizations in the country. The others are Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, Iota Phi Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Sigma Gamma Rho, Phi Beta Sigma, and Omega Psi Phi. There are alumni chapters of every Black Greek-letter sorority and fraternity in most US cities. Because most are engaged in civic, social and political activities, these organizations are a good way to find college educated Black people for just about any story.

The 32 tribal colleges and universities (Scroll down for the list) (TCUs) across the country are federally chartered institutions located on or near Indian reservations. They provide a way for Native American students to access higher education and are also a great, underused resource for finding indigineous experts and opinions for your stories.

Use listening tools

While institutional officials and experts are vital go-to sources, including the viewpoints of people who are directly affected by or living with the issue every day improves the story and the storytelling.

Social media has made it much easier to find people who are engaged on any issue. Browsing Twitter, Facebook or Instagram will likely turn up people of any race, educational background, political persuasion you need.

If you’re covering a topic that has garnered a lot of interest, chances are members of the general public have voiced their opinions in public forums. Search the public record for the names of people who have testified at legislative hearings, spoken at city or county council meetings or written letters to the opinion pages of local publications.

Hire photojournalists from those communities and/or of color

While much of the focus has been on diversifying sources in written reporting, photographs are equally important storytelling that should reflect your community. Diversify Photo is a database of BIPOC and non-western photographers, editors, and visual producers media outlets can use to find visual storytellers. As we say, one picture is worth a thousand words.

Melba Newsome  
 
2020–2021 RJI Fellow



Share

Related Stories

How to write a newsletter about the dead

RJI Fellows Class of 2020–2021
How to write a newsletter about the dead
November 11, 2020

From the frontlines: Latino journalists describe discrimination

RJI Fellows Class of 2020–2021
From the frontlines: Latino journalists describe discrimination
November 9, 2020

comments powered by Disqus
MU | Missouri School of Journalism | University of Missouri