Press-Gazette works to reflect community’s diversity in its content, staffing
Green Bay Press-Gazette
Dajahnae Williams sounded apologetic when she called me the morning after she helped lead Green Bay’s first Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
She wanted me and Green Bay Press-Gazette readers to know the looting and vandalism that broke out after the May 31 protest were out of her control, separate from the peaceful march earlier in the day.
If anyone needed to build a bridge on that phone call, though, it was me in my role as news director of the Press-Gazette. As an organization, we’ve made it our mission to listen to people and communities of color in the greater Green Bay area and reflect that diversity in our coverage.
We believe it’s the only way to accurately represent the community — to tell the truth about who lives in Green Bay and Brown County, and the issues important to all of us, no matter our skin color or our ethnic background. We can’t do that job well without reaching out to people who’ve not been included in the past.
More: A closer look at the Press-Gazette newsroom diversity data
We’re taking steps to improve our coverage and our newsroom. For example, within the past 18 months, we’ve added four journalists of color to our team.
One of our new reporters, Frank Vaisvilas, who is Latino and Yaqui Indigenous to Mexico as well as Irish and Lithuanian, came to us through a partnership with the nonprofit Report for America and specifically covers the Indigenous communities of Wisconsin, including the Oneida Nation.
Reporter Benita Mathew covers crime and justice and breaking news and has a South Asian heritage, as does fellow reporter Nusaiba Mizan, who covers career- and business-related topics in Green Bay and Wisconsin. Both have helped lead staff discussions about diversity and inclusion in our coverage, reported on issues within marginalized communities and added the thoughts and experiences of people of color to other stories of broad interest.
Photographer Ebony Cox, who is Black, has added crucial perspectives to our coverage that we would have missed without her. She has made connections with people in the community who didn’t previously have a voice in the Press-Gazette.
Importantly, the rest of the staff is learning more about sources and issues within our local community. Diversity and inclusion are on their way toward taking their rightful place as a top priority in day-to-day discussions.
We still have improvements to make to learn more about, and represent, the more than 32,000 people of Brown County who identify as nonwhite.
Our four journalists of color represent about 22% of the newsroom staff, which compares favorably with the 15% of Brown County who are people of color. But the largest minority group in the county is Hispanic or Latino at 6.6%, and reaching out means not only hiring journalists but speaking the Spanish that is native to many. We need to work on that. Also it’s noteworthy that none of those four journalists is a manager, and only one of our five editors in Green Bay is a woman. Overall, our newsroom is 61.1% male, while our community is 50.1% female.
We’re making these numbers public, and pledging to reflect the diversity of the community by 2025, as part of an effort across our parent company, Gannett Co. Inc.
And we’ve set the bar higher than matching just Brown County’s diversity; we aim to mirror the statewide population. As part of the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, our journalists in Green Bay also serve and inform readers across the state.
This is a journey. We’ll move forward deliberately and will expect change to come in steps.
Dajahnae Williams knows something about that. After that first march, she went on to help organize multiple events, including Green Bay’s largest protest in recent history, when over 1,000 people peacefully demonstrated downtown.
During that June 7 rally, she told the crowd, “You’re going to see us, you’re going to hear us, you’re going to feel us until you honestly start making changes. … And we’re going to keep marching, and we’re going to keep trying to make changes from this day going forward.
“This is a long-term thing. … We need long-term change.”
Dajahnae is right. It’s time for long-term changes. They have been a long time coming.
Mark Treinen is editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette and news director for USA TODAY NETWORK-Central Wisconsin. Do you have ideas about adding diversity and inclusion to our coverage? Please contact Treinen at firstname.lastname@example.org or message him on Twitter, @MarkTreinen.
This content was originally published here.