Doing Our Part to Dismantle Discrimination and Racism

The San Francisco Public Press is committed to a path that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within our organization, and through our journalism and community engagement. These tenets are fundamental to supporting a culture of trust between our organization and the communities we serve.

Journalism, like many institutions, is facing a reckoning.

Newsrooms everywhere must decide whether to participate actively in this important public dialogue about systemic racism or let it pass them by. We have decided to engage — to question our assumptions about what we do and how we do it.

We once believed we could ensure that the San Francisco Public Press would meet the highest standards by practicing journalism with compassion, empathy, openness and professionalism.

We thought it would be enough to proclaim intolerance for discrimination and guarantee that all qualified job applicants would receive equal consideration. We now know that is not enough. We must actively work to address the legacy of racism in journalism and create a newsroom trusted by marginalized groups whose members have been excluded and harmed by news media.

Traditionally, journalists aim for invisibility. With exceptions for columnists and opinion and editorial writers, we obscure our identities with third-person language and a cloak of objectivity.

There is value in this approach. In most cases, we are not the story. Removing ourselves from the narrative allows readers and listeners to focus on the news and context without being distracted by our personalities.

But we can’t do all the things we must do to serve our audience while disappearing behind notepads and recording devices, and pretending that who we are doesn’t matter.

The Public Press, from day one, committed to doing journalism with a public-interest bias and focusing on telling stories about and for people and communities neglected by commercial media. We have pledged to focus on accountability journalism that examines broken systems, which often involves exposing structural inequality. That includes looking inward toward how the journalism profession has contributed to these problems. That includes building a staff and corps of supporters who reflect the community we report for and about.

We are committed to professional standards of journalism. We can have an objective process — reporting accurately, verifying facts, questioning claims and determining whether they are supported by data — without claiming a dispassionate vantage.

Discrimination and racism are real. Distribution of and access to power, money and resources are wildly uneven. And it is our responsibility to shine a spotlight on these issues in our region and our city. We are certain this approach will improve the quality and salience of our work and our ability to serve our community.

We are committed to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the following areas:

Our hiring and internal operations

  • We are striving to reflect the diversity of San Francisco and the Bay Area among our staff and freelancers.
  • We formed a diversity, equity and inclusion committee that has been meeting regularly for a year. Members participate in professional education, do independent research and lead training initiatives for staff.
  • We are expanding our professional networks so we can share new staff and freelance opportunities broadly.
  • We are taking the time needed to promote job openings effectively and seek out diverse candidates.

Our journalism practices

  • We plan to give our reporters significant, designated time to learn about and connect with people in the communities we cover without deadlines or story assignments.
  • Our journalists are seeking out new and diverse sources to offer a broader range of perspectives on issues we cover regularly.
  • We are regularly evaluating our text stories and “Civic” episodes to see how the demographic representation of our sources compare with the demographics of our city and region.

Our partnerships and community engagement

  • We seek to collaborate with diverse community partners to coproduce online and live events to support their needs and interests in news, information and debate on local policy issues.
  • We are cultivating reporting, publication and broadcast partnerships with other news organizations serving audiences whose interests and perspectives are not widely represented in commercial media.
  • We are recruiting and supporting organizations and independent audio journalists interested in producing weekly programs to air on KSFP 102.5 FM, the Public Press’ community radio station, to bring a broader range of local perspectives to San Francisco’s airwaves.

We will continue to develop these strategies and goals as we reach milestones in our work toward equity and inclusiveity.

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