The Marshall Project and Diversity
This is the first of what will be an annual report on diversity at The Marshall Project.
The Marshall Project is committed to building and maintaining a diverse workforce, and not only because our name is a tribute to a hero of equal justice. We best serve our audience by bringing a variety of experiences and vantage points to bear on the issues we cover. We regard diversity as integral to our overall responsibility, which is to produce the best possible journalism about the U.S. criminal justice system, with its disproportionate impacts on communities of color.
When The Marshall Project launched in November 2014, two of our eight staff writers were people of color, but the leadership was entirely white and predominantly male. We realized that we needed to take steps to broaden representation, and began work to systematically improve our diversity profile.
What We’re Doing
We have created an active staff diversity committee to guide our efforts. We have expanded opportunities at The Marshall Project by establishing three paid summer internships and, starting this year, two year-long fellowships; we have made a concerted effort to use these jobs as points of entry for talented young journalists of color, including collaborating with the Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Newsrooms to identify top candidates. Over the past two years, we also have worked with the Knight CUNY program, which places students from historically black colleges and universities and schools with significant Latino populations in media internships. We make sure that job openings are posted on the websites of the major black and Latino journalist associations. We promote The Marshall Project to journalism students at historically black universities. We staff a career booth at the National Association of Black Journalists convention and lead workshops there on deep-dive reporting; in 2018 we are attending the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention.
These efforts have borne fruit. As of a staff survey in November 2017, the third anniversary of our launch, 12 of 29 employees (41 percent) identify as people of color, including nine of 21 members of the newsroom team (43 percent). Women make up 55 percent of the full staff and 48 percent of the newsroom, including the president and managing editor. (See a detailed breakdown below.)
We will continue to put a premium on diversity as we recruit, hire and promote, including for leadership positions. We will continue to seek out experienced journalists of color, but we will also do more to add to their ranks in the industry at large. The Marshall Project is committed to building internships and fellowship programs to bring young journalists of color into our newsroom and provide the training and mentoring they need for their talents to blossom.
Challenges and Opportunities
In a highly competitive market for diverse talent, we at The Marshall Project have some disadvantages when it comes to diversifying our newsroom. We are small, relatively new, and focused on a single subject, making us less attractive to some candidates. Additionally, the talent pool for investigative reporting, our specialty, is discouragingly white.
But we also have some advantages: we cover a subject that disproportionately affects communities of color and matters profoundly to everyone. We have acquired a measure of prestige. And we are united—staff and board—in our commitment to diversity.
Below is a breakdown of race, ethnicity and gender at The Marshall Project as of November 2017. It is based on a newsroom of 21, and a total staff of 29. The count includes full-time fellows, but not interns.
Download a PDF of the report.