The Marshall Project: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, 2023
After several years of what appeared to be progress in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts around the nation, many of these initiatives have come under fire, particularly after the Supreme Court ruling dismantling affirmative action. At The Marshall Project, we reinvested in our goals to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, and introduced several initiatives to help us better achieve those goals. And while we are extremely proud of our progress, we acknowledge that our efforts are far from complete.
For the past seven years, The Marshall Project has documented its efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion. These reports have told the story of our successes and challenges, while also spotlighting the interesting new ways we have worked to break down barriers for journalists and a variety of audiences. These people range from those who are incarcerated and their families; those who work in all levels of criminal justice, including judges, attorneys, police officers and correctional officers; people who want to learn more about how the system works in practice; and communities who are often misrepresented or unheard.
Our Progress in 2023
Our team continued another year of growth, with The Marshall Project making 15 permanent new hires across all departments.
- 7 (or 47%) described themselves as people of color.
- 4 self-identified as Black or African American
- 1 self-identified as Asian
- 1 self-identified as Hispanic / Latino
- 1 self-identified as two or more races
Our permanent staff now consists of 73 individuals.
- 40 staff members (or 55% of staff) self-identify as people of color.
- Among those:
- 19 (or 26% of total staff) self-identify as Black or African American
- 10 (or 14% of total staff) self-identify as Asian or Asian American
- 6 (or 8% of total staff) self-identify as Latino or Hispanic
- 5 (or 7% of total staff) self-identify as two or more races
- Additionally, 1 person did not self-report their race or ethnicity information.
- 56% of the staff self-identify as female, 41% as male, and 3% as nonbinary.
- 5 staff members (or 7%) are formerly incarcerated.
- We have continuously refined our job descriptions and postings, recruiting, screening, and interviewing techniques to make sure we are attracting and considering a wide and diverse range of applicants. We will continue to improve and standardize our hiring practices and actively seek, recruit, and support diverse candidates in 2024.
- We’ve worked over the past few years to increase not just the diversity of our staff overall, but we have especially focused on diversity among editors, who shape our coverage, and managers, who shape our daily operations and support decision-making.
- The newsroom currently has 17 editors, 9 of whom self-identify as people of color.
- The newsroom has 17 managers (many of whom are also editors), 7 of whom self-identify as people of color.
- On the business side, we have 7 managers, 3 of whom self-identify as people of color (specifically Black or African American).
- We continued working with the Dow Jones News Fund internship program to identify and support a more diverse range of summer interns. In 2024, we will participate again.
- A continued priority for our team is to increase the percentage of multimedia freelancers from historically underrepresented backgrounds. In 2023, The Marshall Project engaged 181 artists, 80% of whom self-identified as people of color.
Our Work in 2023
Evolving recruiting and hiring practices
In 2023, we began hosting a series of live webinars with hiring managers for some of our job postings. As opposed to granting individual calls to candidates who reached out or got an introduction from a friend, we felt an open, public forum would be a more equitable way to answer questions about the roles and expand the diversity of our hiring pool. We aim to increase the mix of candidates who get their questions answered and are then able to submit a more complete, robust application.
We’ve received generally positive feedback from candidates who found the webinars unique and informative; managers in some other newsrooms asked to replicate this process in their newsrooms.
Updated benefits designed with inclusion in mind
We knew our past policy of 5 sick days per year wasn’t enough time for staff. But when we researched 27 other organizations, we learned our policy put us near the bottom.
This meant that we were under-serving parents and caregivers, anyone with a chronic illness, and staff taking mental health days; so we changed our policy. We now offer 12 sick days per year (which were made available immediately in 2023).
Additionally, The Marshall Project added and updated several other policies about staff leaves:
- Medical leave (previously available on an ad hoc basis) was codified and rolled out (up to 30 days).
- Parental leave increased for employees (from 12 to 20 weeks). This applies to everyone who has worked at The Marshall Project for at least 3 months.
- Pregnancy loss leave introduced (up to 2 weeks).
Showing up across the industry
As The Marshall Project has done since its inception, one of our key goals is to model responsible news coverage of the criminal justice system — anchored in rigorous fact-finding and intensive reporting. One of the ways we did this in 2023 was by investing in our presence at a range of industry conferences, sending staff both as speakers and participants.
In partnership with the Investigative Reporters and Editors conferences (NICAR and IRE), we offered mentoring office hours to their members. We met with more than three dozen journalists across both conferences. Many attendees received individualized feedback from a Marshall Project employee or got to talk through their ideas.
We continued our support for and attendance at the national professional organizations serving journalists from historically marginalized identities and communities. These included: the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the Indigenous Journalists Association (IJA), and NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists. We also partnered with other nonprofit investigative newsrooms for a career fair booth (NAHJ), a careers panel and coffee networking session (AAJA), and an Investigative Task Force reception (NABJ).
The Marshall Project was invited to be an inaugural host newsroom for the newly relaunched Chips Quinn Scholars, a national program working to develop diverse leaders in newsrooms. Tammy Galarza was nominated as a fellow in the first class of journalists. Emma Carew Grovum also served on the program’s faculty and as a mentor.
Continuing our efforts to provide digital security and safety resources for our staff, The Marshall Project participated in the International Women’s Media Foundation’s News Safety Cohort, where we joined peer newsrooms for training, coaching to help with policy writing and documentation, and overall support in an evolving digital world. Following our kick-off work in 2022 with PEN America, we also made the DeleteMe service available to all staff.
Building a strong remote culture
As part of our second year of rapid growth, we sought to improve our onboarding to make sure that all staffers had equal access to information and practices. We found that new staff were still meeting their colleagues somewhat randomly, and therefore often received new information in an ad-hoc manner. In order to resolve this inequity, we are continuing to update and invest in our orientation process for new staff.
From clearly identifying roles and workflows, to introducing a software tool that automates reminders and repeat communications, we have invested significant resources into listening for feedback and iterating on our onboarding process. And we hear it’s working — several new staff members described their onboarding experience as “thorough” and “thoughtful.”
Next, we’re in the process of designing and rolling out a framework for a more detailed new staff orientation welcome program, with a goal of piloting our first virtual “welcome” cohort in early 2024. We hope to equip new staff with a firm understanding of where The Marshall Project has been and where we are headed, so they can clearly reach success in their role and help us meet our goals.
After evaluating lessons from the launch of our first local newsroom, and working with TMP-local leadership, we’ve improved the local onboarding process. We tested this with in-person orientation for the launch of the second local newsroom this year, in Jackson, Mississippi.
At our annual all-staff gathering, we hosted a workshop around the prompt: How might we build a better Marshall Project? Staff brainstormed in smaller groups, then pitched ideas for breaking down some of the organization’s challenges, such as how we want to treat one another, how we communicate across teams, how we raise critique and resolve conflicts, and how we continue to raise the bar for our journalism.
This work is ongoing in 2024.
Continuing to expand our diverse audiences
In 2023, we further invested in alternative storytelling, engagement journalism and new avenues of distributing our work. These efforts, which present our reporting through podcasts, videos, comics and other formats, aim to reach people with literacy challenges or who don't necessarily trust the news media.
One of our core strategic goals is to continue to connect more with incarcerated people, their families and others directly affected by the criminal justice system. To that end, we have increased the circulation of our print publication, News Inside. As of this writing, News Inside reaches incarcerated people in 1,360 prisons and jails in 48 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, Mexico and Panama.
Another example is our continued development of Inside Story, created and hosted by formerly incarcerated staff members to shine a light on incarceration. The series highlights impactful stories from our award-winning newsroom to inform audiences both inside and outside prison walls. The team’s work resulted in an 8-episode relaunch, in partnership with VICE News, in February 2023. As of this writing, Inside Story reaches incarcerated people in 751 prisons and jails in 43 states and Washington, D.C.
Our Goals for Next Year
As we build the future of The Marshall Project, we expect to put significant effort into the following areas, further strengthening our foundation:
- The Marshall Project is working to develop a model for data sharing, story iteration, and support for other newsrooms to use TMP-derived datasets or investigations in their own communities. These storytelling “recipes” allow us to build on our past goal of modeling responsible coverage, serving marginalized communities and reaching more diverse audiences, by putting tools and best practices into the hands of fellow journalists, who will then go on to create accurate and accountable criminal justice journalism to serve the diverse communities they live in.
- Inclusive Hiring: Building on several new initiatives this year, in 2024, we hope to increase our hiring hours practice, and find other innovative and inclusive ways to engage with and prepare job candidates for our recruitment and hiring processes.
- Building an Inclusive Workplace through Feedback: In 2023, all staff had the opportunity to meet with outside consultants and express, confidentially and without attribution, what they felt was going well in terms of workplace culture and inclusion at The Marshall Project and what they felt needed improvement. A critical goal for managers in 2024 will be to implement the action items derived from the feedback collected from our staff.
- Compensation Transparency: We created salary bands for large staff groups and a redesigned evaluation system for those groups in order to give staff actionable feedback with equal access to information and clearer pathways for growth. We will continue to refine these practices in 2024.
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 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.