THE DAILY ORANGE DIVERSITY REPORT FALL 2020
Dear reader, The Daily Orange will be at its best when our newsroom represents the diversity of the community we serve. It will be at its most valuable when all residents can turn to us to find their perspectives covered with compassion, nuance and fairness. But we’re not there yet. This fall, The D.O. began assessing the diversity of our staff and our content to better understand the ways in which our publication — which is and has been a predominantly white institution — can reach this necessary end. Diversifying our newsroom and its work is not just a goal. It is an essential undertaking, one that we have failed to pursue for far too long. Today, we’re publishing this report to detail to our readers the progress we’ve made, and the work we still must do, in regards to this undertaking. We shared with our readers in August the steps we intended to take to improve our newsroom’s diversity. Some of those steps included surveying the diversity of our staff, analyzing our coverage’s representation of marginalized communities and gathering insight and feedback from our readers. The results of these measures are included in our report. Our efforts are far from complete. In this report, you will also find our reflections on areas for improvement, which we discussed with The D.O. Board of Directors’ diversity committee. Throughout the spring semester, we will actively work to implement these improvements while continuing to assess our work as we did this fall. We’ll also publish similar reports on a semesterly basis, providing a transparent look at our progress and an opportunity to hold ourselves accountable to ensure such change happens in our newsroom. This is our final semester as a management team, but the newsroom’s subsequent leaders will be required to continue and prioritize this work. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, feedback or concerns about this report, you can contact us at email@example.com. Best, Casey Darnell | Editor-in-chief, 2020-2021 Emma Folts | Managing editor, 2020-2021
BREAKDOWN OF DIVERSITY COMMITTEE The diversity committee was formed in 2020 as a permanent committee of The Daily Orange Board of Directors, which is a group of SU students and alumni tasked with the paper’s strategic planning. The committee will conduct a staff demographics survey each semester in addition to tracking the diversity of the paper’s content. This work will result in a fall and spring diversity report — now required by the board of directors’ bylaws — to be released after the conclusion of each semester. Each diversity report shall be shared with the editorial staff and board and must be published at least once each academic year. Committee membership The editor-in-chief and managing editor serve as co-chairs of the diversity committee. All student members of the board of directors are required to participate in the committee. Every D.O. staffer contributed some work to the diversity report, as editors were required to track topics, sourcing and other metrics across their section. However, any D.O. staffers or writers are welcome and encouraged to work on the committee, especially when the committee seeks recommendations for improvement. The members of the fall 2020 diversity committee are as follows: Richard J Chang, student board member Casey Darnell, editor-in-chief KJ Edelman, digital managing editor Stacy Fernández, alumni board member Emma Folts, managing editor Amy Nakamura, student board member Talia Trackim, student board member
STAFF DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY 39 responses, missing several staffers Area for improvement: full staff participation
SOCIOECONOMIC DIVERSITY Staffers identified that they qualify for these levels of financial aid: Subsidized loans: 46.2% SU need-based grant: 41% None: 41% Direct unsubsidized loans: 38.5% Work study: 30.8% SU need-based academic scholarship: 23.1% Parent loans: 23.1% Pell grant: 15.4%
Staff Racial Diversity White: 76.9% Asian or Asian American: 12.8% Black 7.7% Latino or Latinx 5.1%
SU Racial Diversity White: 52.6% Asian or Asian American: 6% Black or African American 7.3% Hispanic or Latino 9.4% American Indian or Alaska Native 0.5% International student 18.6% Source: Fall 2020 Census
White people represent slightly more than three-fourths of The D.O., compared to about half of the SU student body. The D.O. has a higher and about equal representation of Black and Asian students, respectively, when compared to the SU student body. However, The D.O. is lacking in representation of international, Latino/Latinx and Indigenous students. This gap is most severe with international students, Only one staff member this fall was an international student, though international students represent nearly 20% of campus.
Female: 59% Male: 41% No survey respondents identified as transgender or nonbinary.
25.6% of the staff identified as LGBTQ
25 staffers don’t speak a language other than English 3 staffers speak Spanish fluently 2 staffers speak German 2 staffers speak French 3 staffers speak Chinese 1 staffer speaks Hebrew 1 staffer speaks Korean
staffers identified as having a disability
CONTENT DIVERSITY TRACKERS The Daily Orange created content diversity trackers this fall for our News, Culture, Opinion, Sports, Video and Podcast sections that were modeled after those included in the Minnesota Daily’s 2019-2020 End-of-Year Report. The purpose of the trackers is to identify where our coverage of communities of color and other marginalized communities is insufficient, one-dimensional or nonexistent, as well as to analyze the diversity of sources quoted in D.O. stories. We want to know whose stories we’re neglecting to tell and whose voices we’re failing to amplify. Marginalized communities For this report, we considered stories that covered topics about race, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, nationality and socioeconomic class as those relating to marginalized communities. Stories and sources The trackers included enterprise stories — which include multiple sources interviewed directly by the reporter — and coverages but excluded stories based on press releases or emails and those with only sources a reporter didn’t directly interview. Our breakdown of sources also included university officials and spokespeople, which will be excluded in subsequent iterations of this report so that they may focus on people whom our reporters chose to speak to. Additionally, if it was not clearly stated by the source, our reporters assumed the source’s race when compiling this report. Moving forward, our reporters will ask their sources at the end of an interview if they’d be comfortable sharing their race for the purpose of this report. Questions included The trackers’ first questions asked our editorial staff to summarize their story and share whether it focused on a topic that is relevant to marginalized communities both at Syracuse University and in the greater Syracuse community. While general news, such as coronavirus coverage, may be relevant to many or all of our readers, we wanted to know how many stories that we pursued specifically highlighted the perspectives
and experiences of communities of color and other marginalized communities. From there, our editorial staff filled in the total number of sources included in their story and separately listed the number of sources who were white, who were people of color, who were women, who were men and who were nonbinary or transgender. Instead of creating separate trackers for our Photo and Illustration sections, we asked our editorial staff to consider visuals in their own work by including the following questions: “What visuals accompany the story?” and “Does the primary photo accompanying the piece prominently feature at least one person of color?” Our editorial staff also listed how their stories were promoted on social media and whether the posts featured photos of or quotes from at least one person of color. Following the Minnesota Daily’s report, our trackers also asked our editorial staff to consider who else they could have interviewed for their story and how the production day’s content could have better included and represented marginalized community members. Lastly, the trackers noted how many stories in each section had a correction or a clarification. We included this measure to determine whether stories centering people of color and other marginalized community members were told with accuracy and fairness.
NEWS Starting with Orientation Guide, we published 369 stories this fall: 369 stories, 231 of which were enterprise pieces and coverages. Of the 231 enterprise stories, about 77 were coverages. One hundred and thirty-seven pieces (about 37%) focus on a topic relevant to marginalized communities; 232 (about 63%) do not.
Categories • Campus life (15)
• Coronavirus (92) • Mental health (3) • Administration (9) • Campus news (36) • Student government (30) • Institutional accountability and reform (12) • Challenges, inequalities during COVID-19 (14) • Religious organizations (1) • Activism on campus (6) • Police accountability (15) • Racial justice (11) • International students’ concerns (5) • Elections (45) • City (6) • Hate incidents (6) • Diversity and inclusion (7) • National (1) • Local schools (2) • Local government (7) • State (4) • BIPOC perspectives (7) • LGBTQ perspectives (2) • BIPOC, LGBTQ perspectives (1) • Obituary (4) • Politics (5) • Elections-related challenges, inequality (5) • County (2) • Criminal justice (2) • Lawsuits (4) • Crime (10)
Total sources directly interviewed in 224* stories: 742
people of color
• 468 were white (about 63%) • 274 were people of color (about 37%)
non-binary or transgender • 387 were women (about 52%) • 336 were men (about 45%) • 18 were nonbinary or transgender (about 2%) • T wo anonymous sources were not included, as their gender identity was unclear.
*Seven stories were not included because three had unclear sourcing and four lacked sources. Corrections: 5 (about 1%), about 2 relating to marginalized communities. Clarifications: 3 (about 1%), 0 relating to marginalized communities.
OPINION Starting with Orientation Guide, we published 141 pieces this fall: Forty-four pieces focus on a topic relevant to marginalized communities (about 31%).
Categories • Letters from the editor: 7
• Guest columns: 23 • Personal essays: 3 • Projects (International Voice, Absence of Light): 9 • Columns: 76 • Fast reacts: 19 • Editorial Board: 4
Number of columns with sources: 46* Number of sources directly interviewed: 74
people of color
men non-binary or transgender
• 57 were white (about 77%) • 17 were people of color (about 23%)
• 32 were men (about 43%) • 41 were women (about 55%) • 1 was nonbinary or transgender (about 1%)
Corrections: 2 (about 1%), 0 relating to marginalized communities. Clarifications: 0 *One column was not included due to unclear sourcing.
CULTURE Starting with Orientation Guide, we published 172 stories this fall: Seventy stories focus on a topic relevant to marginalized communities (about 41%). About 14 stories were
Categories • Exhibits/Non-performance art/Writing (29) • Music (29) • Non-food businesses and activities (21) • TV/Film (21) • Fashion (14) • Food (13) • Theater (13) • Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month (6) • Native American Heritage Month (6) • LGBTQ History Month (4) Corrections: 11 stories had • Black Business Guide (3) corrections, and 9 of these • Dance (3) stories were relevant to people • Jewish holidays (2) of marginalized communities. • Greek life (1) • Miscellaneous (17)
Total sources directly interviewed in 172 stories: 553
people of color
men non-binary or transgender
• 366 were white (about 66%) • 176 were people of color (about 32%)
• 309 were women (about 56%) • 230 were men (about 42%) • 11 were nonbinary or transgender (about 2%)
SPORTS Starting with Orientation Guide, we published 339 stories this fall: 120 features, 154 write-ups and 65 game coverages.
•Football (120) • Volleyball (29) • Field hockey (25) • SU Athletics (24) • Men’s soccer (23) • Women’s soccer (22) • Men’s basketball (21) • Women’s basketball (14) • High school sports (13) • Men’s lacrosse (11) • Cross country (8) • Race (4) • Sports business (4) • Activism (3) • Club (2) • Disabilities (2) • Election 2020 (2) • Esports (2) • LGBTQ (1) • Women’s ice hockey (1) • ROTC (1) • Marching band (1) • Otto’s Army (1) • Rowing (1) • Racing (1) • Softball (1)
Total sources directly interviewed in 108 features: 399 Average # of sources interviewed: 3.7 • 114 stories about women’s sports (about 34%) • 225 stories about men’s sports (about 66%) Corrections: 3 stories (about 1%), 0 relating to marginalized communities.
VISUALS Categorization may include the same photo used in multiple stories, and for this report, we assumed the photo subject’s racial identity and left out photos in which the racial identity of the subject was unclear. News Number of photos that featured at least one person of color prominently: About 38 of about 369 total (about 10%) Number of Instagram posts featuring at least one person of color prominently or a quote from a person of color: • Out of about 74 total photos (including text posts, graphics and illustrations, excluding posts from the D.O. Podcast): 10, or about 14% • Out of about 28 photos with people: 10, or about 36% Opinion Images used for Opinion posts overwhelmingly represent file photos without any people, so an analysis of how many photos feature at least one person of color would not be a functional analysis. Number of Instagram posts that feature photos of or quotes from at least one person of color: • Of about 11 total posts (including text posts, graphics and illustrations): about 3 (about 27%) • Only one Opinion post on Instagram featured a photo of a person, so this metric would not be a functional analysis. Culture Number of photos and illustrations that prominently feature at least one person of color: about 58 (about 34%) Number of Instagram posts that feature photos or quotes from at least one person of color: • Of 53 total posts, 47 featured people (89%) • 32 of those 47 featured at least one person from a marginalized community (68%)
VISUALS CONTINUED Sports Number of photos and illustrations that prominently feature at least one person of color: 83 stories (about 59%) Number of Instagram posts that feature photos or quotes from at least one person of color: • Of 29 total posts, 18 featured people (62%) • 11 of those 18 featured at least one person from a marginalized community (61%)
PODCAST D.O. Podcast: • 13 episodes, 40 blocks • 19 blocks focus on topics relevant to marginalized communities or highlight the perspectives of marginalized communities (about 48%) • 42 writers featured on podcast* • 36 were white (about 86%) • 6 were people of color (about 14%) • 22 were women (about 52%) • 20 were men (about 48%) • 1 person was nonbinary or transgender (about 2%) Sportscast • 13 episodes, 35 blocks • 31 writers featured on podcast (not including scripted interviews)* • 25 were white (about 81%) • 6 were a person of color (about 19%) • 28 were men (about 90%) • 3 were women (about 10%) • 0 were nonbinary or transgender (0%) *Numbers include overlap of the same writers featured on multiple blocks.
• 26 issues • Only 18 front pages featured people in the main visual • Of those 18 front pages, 5 (28%) prominently featured a person of color in the main visual • Of those 18 front pages, 10 (56%) featured a person of color, whether in the main visual or not
READERSHIP SURVEY The D.O. promoted three readership surveys during the fall semester, one in September, October and November. The purpose of these surveys was to provide our readers with the opportunity to share their feedback on our coverage, including the topics, communities and issues we are failing to cover sufficiently or neglecting to cover entirely. These surveys were also intended for our readers to tell us what they’d like to see more of in The D.O. The three surveys were promoted on social media and embedded in reported stories throughout our News, Culture, Opinion and Sports section for one production week. In total, 108 readers completed the survey as of Jan. 29. Here are takeaways from the readerships survey and recommendations for improvement based on areas of concerns identified by readers.
Frequency of readership Of the 101 readers who responded to this question, 40.6% read The D.O. a few times a week. This frequency was most common among the readers who participated in the survey, followed by once a day (18.8%), multiple times a day (10.9%), a few times a month (9.9%), weekly (8.9%) and monthly (5%). About 1% of readers wrote that they read The D.O. either very rarely; not at all; once a day or when The D.O. sends emails; and some said it was their first time.
Creating a Culture section that reflects the community Our Culture section is one of our least-read sections, according to our readers. Notably, one respondent said they read our Culture section the least because they feel the section doesn’t really reflect Syracuse’s culture. It’s probable that our broader audience doesn’t read our Culture section more frequently for this very reason as well. About 55% of Syracuse residents are white, according to Census numbers, while 66% of Culture section sources were white in fall 2020. About 27% of SU students identify as Native American or Alaska Native, Black, Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander or two or more races. About 18% of SU’s student body are international students. Combined, those marginalized communities represent about 44% of campus, while
only 32% of Culture section stories were about or relevant to people of color. We must do more to pursue stories that highlight all aspects of the Syracuse University and greater Syracuse community, and that starts with our reporters immersing themselves in and learning about the community that surrounds them. Our Culture section — as well as all of our editorial sections — should mirror what the community cares most about, but we can’t do that if we lack an understanding of the city of Syracuse and are not tuned into campus life.
Highlighting the voices of marginalized community members Our newsroom is insufficiently covering or neglecting to pursue topics relevant to marginalized community members, our readers said. Individual readers specifically listed the LGBTQ community, communities of color and issues of race at SU as topics or communities we’re not covering. With at least 27% of campus identifying as people of color and 18% of campus being international students, those marginalized communities alone represent nearly half of campus. Add other marginalized communities, including LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and religious minorities, the percent of the SU community representing marginalized communities can be assumed to be well over half of campus. Our News section was the only section where more than half of its stories were relevant to marginalized communities. When asked how we could improve our coverage of marginalized communities, four of our readers suggested we pursue more stories and in-depth coverage, and several said we should include more perspectives of marginalized community members. One reader specifically said they’d like to see more stories about Indigenous community members. It’s essential that the stories we publish represent those of all community members, and our editorial sections must prioritize the perspectives and experiences of marginalized communities. As indicated in our content diversity trackers — in which about a third of stories in our News, Opinion and Culture sections focused on topics relevant to marginalized communities, and about a third of sources in these sections were people of color — we have not done enough to ensure this.
Pursuing investigations and holding SU accountable Some of our readers indicated that they read investigative stories the most, as well as stories about institutional accountability and conflict with the SU administration. Two readers also said we insufficiently pursue investigative reporting and cover institutional accountability, and some said we could improve our coverage by reporting
critically on the SU administration and providing more information on the chancellor and the administration. Our News section in particular has not pursued enough investigative reporting, which has been of a particular disservice to our readers in recent academic years. Students have recently protested systemic racism on campus, which we should hold the university accountable for, and SU has also implemented coronavirus policies that deserve our scrutiny.
Improving our coverage of the city Local news, including news concerning the city of Syracuse and New York state, was one of the most common responses to the survey question asking which topics and communities we cover insufficiently. One respondent specifically said our coverage of the city community feels one-dimensional, and that they read city coverage from other publications because our reporters seem dismissive and out-of-touch. Similar to the challenges facing our Culture section, the majority of our news reporters must do more to get to know the Syracuse community. It is only when our reporters feel invested in the city they live in that they can tell the community’s stories with sensitivity and dedication.
Diversifying our staff to improve our work When asked how we could improve our coverage, including our coverage of marginalized communities, three readers suggested we hire a more diverse staff, and one of those respondents added that we should listen to, have serious conversations with and provide support to staffers of marginalized communities. Another reader said we should be more aware of the gender gap. As shown in our staff diversity survey, 76.9% of our newsroom is white. That’s unacceptable. We must improve our outreach, build trust and prioritize recruiting and welcoming journalists of marginalized communities. A newsroom that is predominantly white — like ours — cannot truly serve people of color. A diverse newsroom is crucial to ensuring every resident’s voice is heard and story is told, but beyond that, every aspiring journalist should have a place in our newsroom, and they should feel welcomed and supported.
Reporting more on women’s sports One reader said that we insufficiently cover women’s sports and that they’d like to see more stories about women athletes, respectively. As noted in our content diversity tracker, about 34% of our sports stories are about women athletes.
Beyond game coverage, our Sports section must ensure it’s writing features and enterprise stories about women athletes as often as they are writing those about men. Our Sports section has historically been male-dominated, and improving the section’s gender diversity — and maintaining these improvements — is an important means for making sure the stories of women athletes are highlighted.
GOALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Actively improve and compile data for semesterly diversity report • Publishing this report allows us to track trends in our content and staff demographics — and to hold ourselves accountable. Especially for a majority-white staff, this is essential work. • Section editors should be tasked with sending a demographics survey to contributors so that the diversity committee can track trends in the diversity of the main pool where potential editors are hired from. • Management should provide biweekly feedback to sections on the diversity of their content so that they can make progress as the semester progresses rather than only reflection on inadequacies after the semester ends. Train staffers to tactfully ask sources’ races at the end of interviews.
Establish a diversity scholarship for staffers of color • The diversity committee believes the lack of any scholarships at The D.O. is the biggest obstacle to building a more diverse staff. The scholarship should be provided to staffers of color on a semesterly basis, and The D.O. Board of Directors should actively fundraise and set aside funds for this scholarship so The D.O. can be financially accessible.
Actively work to increase staff pay • While providing more opportunities for writers of color to work at The D.O. is our main goal, the current stipend rate places a massive burden on staffers from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who may have to work a job outside the newsroom in addition to taking a full course load. • Staff pay has decreased over the past decades to be only $50 or $100 every two weeks. Given that some staff members devote almost a full-time workload to The D.O., this pay rate is insufficient and insulting.
Establish reimbursement fund • The D.O. management team should have a fund each semester that allows reim-
bursements for reporting-related expenses, such as Uber or Lyft rides, FOI/A fees or gas. Staffers should not pay out of their pocket for these expenses.
Peer-to-peer mentorship • The D.O. is, first and foremost, a learning institution. Assistant-level staffers and section editors should actively reach out to students who are part of marginalized communities and help them grow their skills — as they should be doing with all writers to begin with. Editors should encourage staffers of color to apply for in-house positions.
Expand outreach to student groups focused on communities of color • Reporters should actively be reaching out to student groups focused on marginalized communities in a proactive manner — and not a reactive one after incidents of discrimination occur. As news organizations, including The D.O., have historically harmed communities of color, building trust is essential to improving our coverage and staff demographics.
Partner with publications focused on marginalized communities • The D.O. can support journalists from marginalized communities by partnering with publications such as Globalists, Femme Noire, Mixtape, Renegade, The Intenational and The OutCrowd. The D.O. should invest resources in co-publishing work with these student magazines and hosting events with them to build relationships and trust. We should also promote their work on our social media accounts.
Being more mindful • Working at The D.O. can be physically and mentally exhausting. Editors, and management in particular, should be sensitive to the fact that everyone has limitations — and that’s OK. Management should allow staffers to take time off and actively work to promote a healthy work environment where staff put their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing first.
SECTION-SPECIFIC GOALS AND RECOMMENDATIONS News • The News section should meet biweekly with the enterprise editor to plan and discuss short-and long-term investigative projects that hold the university and other local institutions of power accountable. The section should also pursue accountability reporting on topics affecting people at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. • The head editor and enterprise editor should frequently check on writers tasked with pursuing stories that highlight or are relevant to marginalized communities to ensure they’re making progress. • The News section should compile and update a list of organizations both on campus and in the city of Syracuse to check in with on a monthly basis. Increasing the section’s outreach will help build relationships and trust with community members. • Along with the list of organizations, the head or assistant editors should provide city beat writers with a guide that provides contemporary and historical information on the city of Syracuse, explains who notable Syracuse residents are and lists what topics have been of significance in recent years. Many SU students are new to the city of Syracuse, and while reporters gain knowledge and connections while working on their beat, having a foundation to build off of will help ensure our reporting on the city is more serviceable and reflective of the topics and concerns that matter most to Syracuse residents. • Once our News reporters begin to build relationships and trust with community members, they should encourage them to share tips and story ideas, and our journalists should be readily available to listen.
Opinion • The Opinion section should actively ask Syracuse University and Syracuse community members of marginalized backgrounds to share their experiences in The D.O. through personal essays and guest columns. Outreach could be conducted on an individual basis, with an editor in the section contacting a community member they’d like to feature. • The section should improve its visuals. When possible, guest columns, personal essays and columns about a writer’s personal experiences could be accompanied by a portrait of the writer. Readers should be able to visit our Opinion section and see those who make up our community.
Culture • Culture should pay more attention to factual accuracy when reporting on marginalized communities, as most of its corrections (9 out of 11) were on stories relevant to marginalized communities. • The section should consider the perspectives of marginalized community members at all times, not just only during a heritage or a history month. By reviewing the content diversity trackers biweekly, management can inform the section when it’s neglecting to cover certain topics or communities. • Similar to News, the head or assistant editors in our Culture section should compile a list of community organizations on campus and in Syracuse — as well as restaurants, theaters and other places relevant to arts and entertainment — to check in with on a monthly basis. Our reporters should not only foster relationships with community members, but they should also reach out to organizations to gain knowledge of upcoming events and community happenings. • Our reporters should encourage students and community members to reach out to them on social media with information on upcoming events or story ideas. While we should actively immerse ourselves in the community and seek story ideas, fostering two-way communication will be helpful in building relationships and making sure our reporters are covering topics people care about.
Sports • The Sports section should ensure its beat writers who cover women’s sports are producing as much content as those covering men’s sports. Management will also be able to track this through the biweekly check-ins. • The section should be cognizant of the game coverages it chooses to highlight on the sports back, and it should ensure that significant women’s games are