The Diversity Pledge Institute Celebrates First Anniversary

Cupcake on a table with blue frosting and a "1" candle.

PHOENIX — October 28, 2022 — The Diversity Pledge Institute at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication (DPI) today celebrates its first anniversary.

“I started DPI because I believe that diversity makes for stronger newsrooms and better journalism, and over the past year I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who hold the same belief,” Founder Larry Graham said. “From our staff who work tirelessly to bring DPI’s programs to life to our board of directors who help guide the ship, reaching this important milestone would not have happened without them.”

In the past year, DPI has expanded its Learning Circle program offerings, launched its Newsroom Diversity Survey pilot and partnered with  The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, Editor & Publisher, News Revenue Hub and the Journalism Education Association, and found a home at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“DPI has been a lifeline to me as well as many of my friends and colleagues in journalism,” Daphne Duret, who recently joined The Marshall Project as staff writer to cover policing, said. “I have jokingly called Larry ‘the Harriet Tubman of journalism,’ and the truth is that his inside knowledge of how this business works has empowered me and others to successfully navigate through spaces where we were previously rare or nonexistent. 

“For every public announcement of a new partnership or initiative from DPI this past year, there have been countless more victories in the day-to-day work of a group of people who are always accessible, always willing to provide advice or make a connection, and always willing to do the kind of unseen work that holds our news outlets accountable to DEIA in a tangible way,” she continued. “As proud as I am to call Larry a friend, I am happier still that DPI has become the action-driven ally our industry needs to keep us fair and honest in making sure the demographics of our newsrooms reflect the communities we cover.”

The organization has also worked with newsrooms across the nation to place journalists from diverse backgrounds into roles that further their careers and allow them to thrive in newsrooms actively involved in improving diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the news industry.

“After taking an extended maternity leave, DPI helped me kickstart my career again in journalism,” Chantal Allam, a reporter covering real estate for the Raleigh News & Observer. “With Larry’s guidance, I forged critical connections with both local and national media outlets, eventually landing my dream job with the Raleigh News & Observer. It wasn’t easy, but I got there with DPI’s support.”

This two-fold approach to DEIA — providing support to journalists from diverse backgrounds and working with newsrooms to create more diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible spaces — has allowed DPI to have real impact in helping newsrooms to start developing goals around retention that can lead to increased audience engagement and revenue.

“I always tell people that I want to get to the point where the work DPI does is no longer needed,” Graham said. “But until we get to that point, and I hope we do, DPI will continue to provide free services to journalists from diverse backgrounds and provide the necessary support for newsroom clients as they work toward more equitable and inclusive practices.”

Over the past few months, the DPI team has taken their message on the road at journalism conferences throughout the country. From the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Denver to the Online News Association in Los Angeles and America’s Newspapers Senior Leadership Conference in New Orleans, DPI staff have talked with journalists and newsroom leaders to hear firsthand their experiences with DEIA in their newsrooms and the struggles they’re having in hopes of addressing them with future programming.

“These conversations have been a great addition to the work we are doing in finalizing our diversity and inclusion survey that will officially launch early in 2023,” Gaby Martinez-Stevenson, DPI’s director of institutional research, said. “This survey will further help the industry develop a common understanding of DEIA as well as help identify the appropriate strategies and tools needed to address these barriers.”

You can support the work of DPI by making a tax deductible donation here.

About The Diversity Pledge Institute — The Diversity Pledge Institute at the Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) dedicated to research, analysis and education related to diversity in journalism. Our goal is to solve the diversity pipeline problem; improve retention rates associated with diversity, equity and inclusion; and support journalists’ career growth. We prioritize peer-to-peer training and career learning for journalists while offering ongoing organizational support for diversity and inclusion efforts in media. You can support that work by making a tax deductible donation here.