The Diversity Pledge Institute To Expand On Successes Of Learning Circle Pilot Program

PHOENIX — September 15, 2022 — The Diversity Pledge Institute at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication (DPI) is happy to announce that it has wrapped up its initial Learning Circle pilot program and will be moving forward with expanded offerings in the coming months.

“One of the core goals of The Diversity Pledge Institute is to prepare journalists from diverse backgrounds to take the next steps in their careers,” Larry Graham, DPI founder and executive director, said. “One way we are doing that is through our Learning Circles, a career-development program facilitated by career veterans.”

The Learning Circle initiative brings together small groups of journalists with similar goals for a series of lessons that provide them with critical workplace tools in areas such as leadership, networking, diversity initiatives and more, depending on the interests of the participants. The journalists are then able to graduate from the Learning Circle program with the knowledge and support they need to reach their career goals.

“Learning Circles are the first step in the full suite of wraparound services that The Diversity Pledge Institute is offering journalists,” Rebecca Lisi, Ph.D, DPI program manager, said. “The peer support model that validates the participants’ experiences in the field and the lessons equip them with the ability to lead and advance DEIA efforts in their newsrooms moving forward.”

For the pilot, the journalists participated in an accelerated program that allowed them to work through all seven content areas in 14 weeks. Their coursework focused on navigating new jobs, networking in a professional development, running a team, newsroom leadership, the business of journalism and a lesson that focused specifically on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the news industry.

The pilot program participants were Anjuman Ali, Daphne Duret, Elton Hayes, Arielle Kilgore, Reina Kempt, Katie Moore and Ramon Antonio Vargas.

“The Learning Circle, in 90-minute sessions every other week, gave me years’ worth of professional development,” Vargas, a weekend editor at the Guardian US, said. “Leadership in a newsroom isn’t an art or a gift that some of us get and others don’t, as many of us have been led to believe in our careers. It’s a science that can be learned and perfected the more you do it and the longer you do it — just as the crafts of reporting and writing are.”

“I learned so much vital information about the current state and the future of diversity, equality, inclusion and accessibility in newsrooms during our sessions,” Hayes, Penn State beat writer for CNHI, said. “The information was fresh and relevant, and it was presented clearly and effectively. I would gladly take the course again as there was so much valuable insight shared.”

And while participants are no longer required to attend lessons after the completion of the Learning Circle program, they will still have the support of DPI through regular check-ins and additional skills-building workshops available to all current and previous participants.

“The Learning Circles are equipping journalists with practical skills and tools that work to diversify and decolonize the newsroom,” Lisi said. “Most importantly, we are building a network that supports leaders in journalism making the structural changes necessary for the industry to thrive in the future.”

The Diversity Pledge Institute is thrilled to be able to expand on this pilot program and has already started recruiting for future Learning Circles.

For more information about the Learning Circle program, please email [email protected].


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.