Let’s get real about the state of DEI in journalism

It’s been more than three years since the murder of George Floyd and subsequent racial justice protests shook the United States and the world — a prominent example of racism in action, and hardly the first, or last, of its kind. In response since, news organizations and journalism leaders made promises about prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. But how much progress have we actually made? Are these assurances being kept?

In a featured session at the 2023 Online News Association Conference in Philadelphia, our panel will discuss where we are now and what should come next for the industry. Join us on Friday, Aug. 25, 11:30 a.m., for Real Talk About The Status of DEI In Journalism.

Versha Sharma, Editor-in-Chief, Teen Vogue, and ONA board member, will moderate the conversation. Speakers include:

  • Kathleen McElroy, Professor, University of Texas at Austin
  • Martin G. Reynolds, Co-Executive Director, The Maynard Institute
  • Leonor Ayala Polley, Chief of Business Development & Partnerships, URL Media

Kathleen is the Frank A. Bennack Jr. Chair in Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. This month she reached a $1 million settlement with Texas A&M University after an attempt to hire her to direct the university’s school of journalism failed, with discriminatory practices and racism at the center of the botched hiring process. Before receiving her doctorate in journalism in 2014, she worked in newsrooms in Texas and New York, including The National Sports Daily and The New York Times.

Martin leads fundraising, client relations and external affairs at Maynard and serves as the institute’s lead Fault Lines diversity trainer. He is the co-founder of Oakland Voices, an award-winning storytelling project that trains residents to serve as community correspondents. He previously served as director of the Reveal Investigative Fellowship with the Center for Investigative Reporting. Earlier, Martin spent 18 years with Bay Area News Group.

Leonor leads recruitment at URL Media, a network of Black and Brown media organizations. Before joining URL Media, she worked at NBC News in New York for 18 years. There, she led the network’s diversity and inclusion programs. She co-founded NBCU Academy, its flagship training program for college students and young professionals.

Versha became Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue in May 2021. Previously, she was Managing Editor and Senior Correspondent at the social video-first company NowThis, where she led audience growth on new platforms. She’s also an alum of the Women’s Leadership Accelerator and has served on ONA’s Board of Directors since 2018.

Register for ONA23  Explore the schedule

In response to our community’s feedback, ONA23 will be a two-part event. From Aug. 23-26, we will gather in Philadelphia with our signature blend of in-person learning, inspiration and networking. At ONA23: Onward, Sept. 28-29, we will host timely, lean-back virtual conversations affecting newsrooms everywhere. If you’re registered for Philadelphia, you’ve unlocked access to Onward; you can also pick up a standalone pass for Onward.

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