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Publisher’s Note | Building A Diverse Newsroom Is Simple, But Takes Work

I was utterly floored when a media colleague tagged me in a group chat to congratulate our team on winning the Robert McGruder Diversity Leadership Awards. I recalled a February day when Ashton or Donna, or maybe both, said we should enter, and so we did. We enter a lot of awards. We win some and we lose some. The Poynter Journalism Prizes had more than 600 entries, so there’s that.

It’s easy to slip into journalism jargon, so let me break it down for you. The Poynter Institute is critical to journalism. It’s one of the world’s most important training grounds for newsrooms, journalists, and news entrepreneurs. I’m currently part of the Media Transformation Challenge at Poynter with everyone from other statewide media to folks from the BBC. I was surprised that they didn’t have journalism awards before this year. If you ever walk through their headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla., with folks bustling from one training to another, you’ll see they might have been a little busy before now.

So get this. We are the inaugural winners of a diversity award given by one of the most important journalism institutions in the world. Right now, our country is fighting for its life with attacks on liberal arts education; accurate history; and the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of what some call the “culture wars.” I have other names for them, but this is a happy piece. Donna and I talk to people across the country when we’re trying to raise money, participating in or leading cohorts or conversations. So many people get so much wrong about Mississippi. One of my favorite things is showing people a picture of our incredible team. Usually, they stare for a bit and say, “Wow, that’s your team?”

We talk to a lot of good people around the country about recruiting staff that reflects their communities because they want to know how we do it. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. You have to extend an invitation. Journalism and media are historically a hostile environment for Black, Brown, rural

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