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Monday April 25, 2022

WGAE Calls on Pulitzer Prizes to Improve Diversity and Transparency in News Industry

On April 22, the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) joined more than 50 organizations representing journalists across the U.S. in calling on the Pulitzer Prizes to help improve diversity and transparency in the news industry. 

The Guild asked the prize committee to add one requirement starting in 2024: In order to be eligible for a Pulitzer Prize, a news organization must publicly share data about staff demographics. News organizations could report their data through a survey from the News Leaders Association, or in another industry reporting system

We’ve joined The NewsGuild-CWA, the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, Ida B. Wells Society, LION Publishers, URL Media, Center for Public Integrity, and OpenNews in this call for action because right now, many news organizations are failing at this kind of accountability. Nieman Lab reported on April 12 that there was “crushing resistance” to participation in the NLA’s annual diversity survey: The group planned to gather data from 2,500 organizations, and in the end, only 303 completed this important survey.

“The Writers Guild of America, East members have fought for collective bargaining agreements that prioritize making newsrooms more inclusive, knowing that better representation means better stories,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East. “It is critical that news organizations be transparent about their staff demographics. Sharing diversity statistics is the simplest, best mechanism for holding news organizations accountable, and ensuring that prestigious awards are bestowed upon newsrooms that honor and respect our nation’s diversity.”

Individual signers and organizations can join the effort to push for diversity transparency in the news industry. Add your name or organization here.

Read the full letter sent to the Pulitzers here or below:

To: The Pulitzer Prizes

April 22, 2022

Marjorie Miller
The Pulitzer Prizes

Dear Marjorie,

We are appealing to The Pulitzer Prizes to help us improve the diversity and transparency in the news industry. On Tuesday, April 12, Nieman Lab reported that there was “crushing resistance” by news organizations to participate in an annual diversity survey by the News Leaders Association. The group planned to have 2,500 organizations participate and in the end only 303 completed this important survey.

That is unacceptable. 

Our country is reckoning with racial inequity and many in the journalism industry can’t or won’t provide essential newsroom transparency on staff diversity. If we can’t collect crucial data, how do we expect to improve newsroom diversity and represent our communities? NLA is the only organization that has collected this essential data for more than 40 years and it must continue, but it will only continue if news organizations are incentivized to participate in these demographic surveys.

We are asking your organization to promote this survey and reporting of demographic data by adding the following criteria to your selection process for Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism:

In order to qualify for an award, organizations must provide proof of participation in the most recent general survey/census by the News Leaders Association or another industry reporting system that shares data publicly, effective 2024 (i.e., they must participate in this year’s data collection to be eligible for awards/funding in 2024).

By implementing this new criteria, the Pulitzers would honor not only great journalism, but journalism from newsrooms willing to be accountable to the public. NLA supports this addition to the Pulitzer’s criteria for entry, and is committed to prioritizing this survey and working with newsrooms to increase participation.

Journalists have an ethical duty to be accountable and transparent. We must be accountable to our readers and our workers by making sure our newsrooms reflect the demographics of our readers. And we must be transparent with that data to improve the diversity of our newsrooms so they can operate at their full potential. 



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