Expanding audiences and bringing new readers into the fold of a digital news publication involves more than just social media marketing or discounts on subscription prices. When news publishers can be more inclusive, they open up the door to a larger readership and expand their opportunities for revenue generation.
What does inclusivity look like in the digital news industry?
For starters, inclusivity in news publishing means reporting on topics that are of interest to a wide variety of people from different socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds. It also means getting information from subjects who might be outside the demographics of most newsroom employees.
Hispanic, black, and Asian women make up less than 5% of newsroom employees nationwide, according to data from the American Society of News Editors. The implications of this disparity can be felt throughout the media landscape. Reporters and editors should be looking outside their own social networks to find sources and generate story ideas.
Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. According to a new survey by Pew Research, just two-in-ten Americans say they have ever been interviewed by a local reporter. Overall, researchers from Pew found that white, older, educated Americans are more likely to be interviewed by local journalists than any other group.
Local publishers who want to be more inclusive can start by looking outside the newsroom for story ideas and subject matter experts to interview.
Reporters in local newsrooms rely heavily on the sources they’ve cultivated in government, professional associations, and trade unions, but expanding coverage to include voices from other diverse groups is one of the ways that news publishers can be more inclusive. When editors and publishers themselves reach out to the leaders of different cultural groups, it makes a real difference in how those groups view the publication and the reporters who work for it. To really make a change, everyone in the newsroom needs to be on board. That includes staff writers, editors, and even the sales reps who represent the publication out in the community.
The images that publishers promote on the front pages of their websites matter, as well. Take a look at a dozen or so of the most recent photographs to appear on your website. Do you notice a trend? Are the people in those photos mostly white, older, and educated? If so, you might have a diversity problem on your hands.
While every local news publication is different, there is a common goal within the industry to shine a light on voices that are often left out of traditional news coverage. Social diversity is something that publishers are paying more attention to.
The language that reporters use in their news coverage is just as important as the topics they cover and the people they choose to interview.
Publishers should provide reporters with resources that define what inclusive language looks like in the modern era and update their in-house style guides with bias-free language guidelines. (This guide, from Emerson College, offers an overview of the latest ethnic and racial designations, as well as gender-inclusive language.)
Inclusivity in local publishing is also tied to subscription pricing. How can you expect to have a diverse readership if the majority of people in your community can’t afford a basic subscription? Selecting on the optimal subscription pricing will always be difficult, of course, but publishers who truly care about expanding and diversifying their audiences should look at flexible pricing options for readers to make their content affordable for everyone.
6 Ways News Publishers Can Be More Inclusive
- Reach out to local groups and ask what topics they’d like to see covered.
- Look outside the newsroom for tips on who to interview about local stories.
- Search for interview subjects who haven’t been mentioned by name in the publication before.
- Use gender-inclusive language, and the latest ethnic and racial designations.
- Make an effort to hire employees from diverse backgrounds.
- Implement flexible subscription pricing options that everyone can afford.