Cronkite News Joins BBC in Effort to Diversify Sources

Friday, March 12


By Lisa Diethelm

Cronkite News, the news outlet of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Arizona PBS at Arizona State University, has partnered with BBC’s “50:50 The Equality Project” in an effort to diversify representation in the media.

“50:50 The Equality Project” was formed in BBC’s London newsroom and is a collective action that aims to ensure equal gender representation in sourcing for media, with the goal of 50% of sources being men and the other 50% women. Eight-five news organizations in 24 countries, including the BBC, ABC News-Australia, the Financial Times and Voice of America, are part of the effort.

Participant news organizations, including Cronkite News, monitor the contributors of their content, share and discuss the data they find, and then identify possible improvements.

This month is the” 50:50 Challenge Month” for the worldwide initiative. Throughout the month, Cronkite News and other participating media outlets will publicly publish their sourcing data for the next 50:50 Impact Report. The report, which will be released on April 22, will show how participating newsrooms are performing in terms of gender equality in sourcing.

Christina Leonard, executive editor of Cronkite News, said students are eager to find new ways to improve both transparency and diversity in their reporting.

“It’s always important for us as a journalism school and as a learning institution to train our students not just how to do news, but to know what to look for moving ahead,” she said. “We want to develop better journalists for the future.”

According to data collected over the past seven months, women represent about 41% of all sources in Cronkite News broadcast stories, Leonard said. Participating in the 50-50 project has helped students become more aware of how they source their stories, which will result in more voices being heard, she said.

“It’s all about inclusion versus exclusion,” Leonard said, “and that trickles down to everything that we do both in the newsroom and in the products that we produce.”

Leonard added that Cronkite News also wants to increase the diversity of sources beyond gender to include race, age and geography — all as part of a goal to broaden and deepen coverage in underserved communities.

“Our students are amazing, and we know that they support diversity inclusion efforts. And we know that they’re interested in making those changes for the industry, so it’s up to us to provide the tools of how we do that in a smart way,” she said.

Watch Cronkite News’ video: