The Marshall Project: Diversity and Inclusion, 2022
The Marshall Project, like many nonprofit news organizations, began as an experiment. Could we fundamentally change the way journalists cover and discuss the criminal justice system? The Marshall Project’s fact-based journalism seeks to elevate the conversation about the current state of criminal justice and incarceration.
In maturing as a newsroom and organization, we have recognized that this work cannot be done by only one type of journalist, nor can we simply publish to the traditional news media audience.
For the past six years, The Marshall Project has documented its efforts around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We are proud of our progress in diversifying our staff, leadership team and board. But we know the work is far from finished.
It’s not enough to simply hire journalists and staff from historically marginalized backgrounds and expect them to fulfill the mission. As leaders and decision-makers, we must listen carefully to their ideas, and set them up for short- and long-term success.
Our Progress in 2022
More Diverse Than Ever
In 2022, we invested in alternative storytelling, engagement journalism and new avenues of distributing our work.
This means we can increasingly reach people who may have literacy challenges, or don't necessarily trust the news media.
An example of this is our continued development of Inside Story, our video series designed to inform audiences inside and outside of prison walls. The team has been working toward a full relaunch in 2023.
One of our core strategic goals is to connect more with incarcerated people, their families and others directly affected by the criminal justice system. To that end, we have increased circulation of our print publication, News Inside. As of this writing, it reaches incarcerated people in 896 prisons and jails in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and Mexico.
A year of rapid growth
We created a new role to focus and intensify our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging efforts. Emma Carew Grovum joined as the first-ever Director of Careers and Culture. In her role, she will lead and develop training and programming for the staff:
“My goal is to create circumstances within The Marshall Project where our staff can show up to work as their full selves and do their best, most authentic work. This means continuing the hard work that has been ongoing, while also pushing us out of our comfort zone, toward innovation and growth.”
Our team grew substantially this year, with The Marshall Project making 23 new hires across all departments.
- 16 new hires (or 70%) self-identify as people of color.
- Two new hires were formerly incarcerated, bringing our total number of formerly incarcerated staff to 6 (or roughly 9%).
- We tracked the demographic data for two types of organizational decision-makers.
- We hired 3 editors into the newsroom, all of whom are people of color.
- We added 5 managers across all teams, 4 of whom are people of color.
- We also welcomed back a former fellow and staff writer into a newly-created editing role to lead our engagement efforts newsroom-wide, including reporting and writing.
- As we have done since 2020, every hiring process across our organization used the “Rooney Rule” — all finalist pools included at least one person of color.
- We partnered with other nonprofit newsrooms to maximize our support for the affinity journalism groups, such as NABJ, NAHJ, and AAJA, and their respective conferences. Our participation ranged from sending staff as speakers to hosting shared events.
- We sent staff to represent The Marshall Project at the annual conference for NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists for the first time.
- We continued working with the Dow Jones News Fund internship program to source our summer interns. In 2023, we will participate again.
- A continued priority for our team is to increase the percentage of multimedia freelancers from historically underrepresented backgrounds. To that end, this year, The Marshall Project engaged 127 freelance multimedia artists, 78% of whom self-identified as people of color.
5 year comparison:
- In 2017, our first year of collecting and publishing our staff demographics data, our team was 59% White.
- By comparison, five years later, our staff is both larger by raw numbers, but is also more racially and ethnically diverse. Currently, 42% of our staff self-identify as White, while 58% of our teammates self-identify as being non-White or people of color.
- In 2017, our board of directors was predominantly White, and 23% of our board members self-identified as being people of color. Today, 47% of the 17 board members self-identify as people of color.
- Finally, significant effort has been made by our hiring and recruitment teams to diversify the teams of decision-makers within The Marshall Project.
- We currently have 15 editors within the newsroom, with 60% of those staff self-identifying as people of color.
- Across all departments, our teams include 22 managers, 55% of whom self-identify as people of color.
- By comparison, when we launched in 2014, two of our eight staff writers were people of color, but the leadership was entirely White and predominantly male.
Our Goals for Next Year
Continuing the momentum
As we build toward the future of The Marshall Project, we expect to put significant effort into the following areas, strengthening our foundation further:
- Modeling Responsible Coverage: As we continue to develop and model best practices for covering the incarcerated population and the criminal justice system, we must share and elevate this discussion widely with other journalists, as we have done with our Language Project.
- Compensation Transparency: We will work to establish and clearly communicate compensation levels and performance evaluations, with ranges and career development pathways.
- Inclusive Hiring: We will adopt consistent protocols for our hiring across the organization to ensure we are following equitable practices in our recruitment, screening, interviewing and our selection process.
- Collective Participation: We will invite staff feedback on our initiatives and our workplace culture through our DEI committee and other means.
By the Numbers
The Marshall Project uses EEOC race/ethnicity and gender reporting categories, abbreviating some categories in the charts for space.
Race/Ethnicity: White (Not Hispanic or Latino); Black or African American (Not Hispanic or Latino); Hispanic or Latino; Native American or Alaska Native (Not Hispanic or Latino); Asian (Not Hispanic or Latino); and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (Not Hispanic or Latino); Two or More Races.
Gender: Nonbinary, Female, Male
The demographic survey of freelance artists had a 94% response rate.
The Marshall Project has no employees who identify as Native American, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.
The percentages in the charts have been rounded and may not add up to 100.