Diversity plan

Adopted June 2022

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication believes that our disciplines play a foundational role in building bridges between people and creating pathways for understanding and cooperation. This is necessary for a functioning society and is fundamental to the ability to bring people together to solve pressing issues and leverage opportunities to create a better world for everyone. We respect the power of media in a contemporary world, where it is increasingly pervasive and unmatched in its ability to not only inform, but to influence opinions and perceptions.

The Cronkite School is a unit of Arizona State University, whose charter reads: “ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.

Therefore, the Cronkite School is deeply committed to diversity, which we define as all variations of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender and gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, religion or political affliliation. That commitment is reflected in our hiring and promotion of faculty and staff, recruitment of students, our curriculum and pedagogy across modalities, and our school culture. We seek to create a sense of belonging for everyone by encouraging, advocating and demanding the empowerment of diverse voices and perspectives in all learning and working environments. 

The Cronkite School assesses its efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion through both regular review and special inquiries. Inviting rich dialogue within those efforts generates suggestions for continued improvement, but also reminds us of all we’ve accomplished:

Curriculum: Students gain exposure to and appreciation for diverse perspectives, cultures and identities across their curricula and complete a required course in ethics and diversity, typically taken during the second or third year. To further advance the understanding and practice of diversity and inclusion and to build a more inclusive culture at Cronkite, the faculty voted in fall 2021 to add a required course, “Diversity and Civility at Cronkite,” to the curriculum. All undergraduate students take the 1-credit course in their first semester in the program. Students also may add a minor in Digital Media Literacy, which enables them to combat misinformation and connect underserved communities with critical information. 

Emphasizing Diversity in Storytelling: The Cronkite School encourages students to emphasize diversity in their work and provide service to diverse communities through journalism that exposes inequities and that gives voice to the voiceless. Specific reporting programs with a focus on serving underrepresented communities include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health disparities initiative in Cronkite News, the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and the Borderlands program in which students cover international issues related to immigration, Indigenous communities and geopolitical issues. Additionally, since 2020, Cronkite News has participated in the BBC 50-50 project for which students have tracked the gender and race of sources in broadcast and digital stories as part of an effort to improve diversity of sourcing in Cronkite News content. 

Professional Partnerships: The Cronkite School has partnered with the Diversity Pledge Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides free mentorship, training and career advancement support with an emphasis on journalists of color and members of the LBGTQ community; the Institute relocated to the Cronkite School in 2022. Another new partnership with NBCU Academy (a division of NBCUniversal) has provided funding to create a graduate assistantship for a student from an historically black institution. 

Global Engagement: As a The Cronkite School strives to expand its global presence, with particular emphasis in areas that align with the goals and resources of Arizona State University. Notable inroads have been made into Mexico, Argentina and other areas of Latin America, where Cronkite offers internship experiences, content collaborations and curricula. The Cronkite School hosts a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship where professionals from emerging democracies attend a 10-month academic experience. Students have the opportunity to study abroad with Cronkite’s dedicated short-term skills-based trips as well as recurring specialty reporting trips to the Olympic Games. New COIL grants allow for students and faculty to collaborate on international projects and learning opportunities virtually.

DEI as a Core Value: Our Cronkite Diversity Principles are at the heart of our mission of inclusivity and equity. These principles are included in every syllabus for every class, and posted around the school as a reminder of our responsibility to embrace diversity of thought and acceptance of all people. In 2020, the school launched The Cronkite Experience, a months-long initiative with a mission of ensuring that Cronkite is a place where the experiences and identities of all students, faculty and staff are valued and respected.

Still, we recognize that the work of diversity, equity and inclusion is never complete and is an evolving responsibility. The Cronkite School has identified the following four areas of focus – rooted in our charter – for the 2022-2023 academic year, and set goals accordingly. 

1. Student Access

As a university that measures itself “not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes,” we are mission-driven to develop a diverse student community. Our recruitment initiatives begin in Arizona K-12 classrooms and in summer Cronkite Camps; a dedicated high school programs coordinator travels the state to engage students and their families in media literacy and creation. A dedicated recruitment team works in lock-step with ASU’s central admissions team on recruitment initiatives, communications campaigns, student ambassador programs, community outreach and events. While our recruitment tactics successfully engage prospective students, many interested (and even admitted) students cannot meet the financial or logistical obligations of attending the school. True inclusion requires us to create pathways for students who want to attend the Cronkite School – particularly students from diverse and underrepresented communities – to seize the opportunity. 

Goal: The Cronkite School will maintain the school’s steady stream of philanthropic revenue to prioritize private funding for student access through annual and endowed scholarships, community outreach and engagement and high school enrichment programs. 

2. Amplifying Diverse Voices and Perspectives

Our charter calls us to assume “fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” Thus, we strive to curate a learning community that both reflects the students it serves and elevates voices and perspectives from beyond it. While we always endeavor to increase diversity and representation among our faculty and staff, it is imperative to expose our learning community to voices and perspectives outside the school. The Cronkite School hosts a slate of school-wide and public events highlighting industry professionals, exposing students and external audiences to diverse perspectives from alumni, media experts, newsmakers and leaders. (For example, in Spring 2022, the Cronkite School hosted a discussion about challenges in minority hiring in the NFL and how the media has addressed the issue. It featured two former African American NFL coaches, a veteran African American news columnist and the executive vice president of the NFL.) However, the global pandemic reduced our ability to deliver these events, and reviving them is critical to our efforts to increase representation and amplify diverse professionals.

Goal: The Cronkite School will offer at least 10 events per semester featuring an industry professional, faculty or Cronkite alumni who represents diversity as defined above.

3. Service to the Profession

Within our assumption of responsibility for the health of our communities is a duty to improve our professional communities. The Cronkite School seeks to contribute to diversity and inclusion within the news media and other communications professions through grant and training programs and other outreach efforts. These include the National Center on Disability and Journalism, which offers resources and training as well as annual recognition of the best disability journalism being done around the world. Each year, the Schaufler Prize in Journalism recognizes the best reporting nationally on issues related to LGBTQ individuals and other underrepresented groups. Training programs for public media outlets and for local television stations, administered under grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, respectively, help news outlets build and sustain diverse workforces and serve diverse audiences.

Goal: Diversity and inclusion will be central to all proposals put forward by the School and executed by the School in service to the profession.

4. Research

Academic research is a foundation of the Cronkite School, as we embrace our mission to “advance research and discovery of public value.” All scholars bear a responsibility to harness diverse thought and literature in their research; the Cronkite Schools also assumes the responsibility to conduct research that elevates and diversifies the professional industries it serves. Thus, the school encourages scholarship in areas that seek to explore, measure, expand and innovate diversity across media disciplines. We recognize the need to expand our scholarship in diversity in media to generate the impact we desire. 

Goal: The Cronkite School will launch a comprehensive Center for Diversity and Culture in Media by fall of 2024 that will harness research to explore the intersections of content, diversity, representation and the media industry. The Center will harness Cronkite’s presence in Arizona, Los Angeles and Latin America to offer scholars and students enriching research experiences, and empower them to connect with the vast cultural diversity of the Southwest.