The Star Tribune’s “non-white staff members” recently called for mandatory implicit bias training, an annual “newsroom diversity report,” and a host of other changes in a letter sent to the paper’s leadership.
A “diversity solutions document” released Thursday accuses The Star Tribune of being a “white-centric organization” that does not represent the diverse communities in Minnesota.
“Generations of journalists of color before us have been fighting for change in this newsroom for decades. But this is the moment where we are making it clear: we want to disrupt our newsroom’s systemic centering of whiteness and maleness by making structural changes,” the document states.
The list of demands was written by the newspaper’s “non-white employees” and sent to the outlet’s leadership, including publisher Mike Klingensmith.
The document demands “annual implicit bias training” for all staff members as well as an “annual newsroom diversity report.”
“We demand management provide transparent reporting of their efforts to recruit diverse candidates for every position they fill, including what channels they used and how many candidates of color applied,” states another demand. “At least 30 percent of all new hires in each classification should be people of color.”
The journalists who wrote the document believe their managers should be required to “meet with communities of color outside of the newsroom and attend community events like public forums on violence in the community, rallies (like the George Floyd rallies),” and similar events.
Another demand calls on the “current management group” to issue a “newsroom wide email apologizing” for racial inequities.
“Even though these disparities weren’t created by this current management group it was perpetuated by them and they were complicit in its continuation,” the letter explains.
The letter’s authors also want changes made to the newspaper’s stylebook, including a new policy requiring the use of “undocumented” instead of “illegal immigrant.”
“The continued use of ‘illegal immigrant’ in our stories has created a rift between us and immigrant communities and we cannot do our jobs without their trust. We also want our stylebook updated to not use ‘minority’ and instead use ‘people of color’ or be more specific and use Black, Latino, Asian American or indigenous,” the journalists write.
A small leadership team apparently has met with the authors of the letter to discuss the “need for long-lasting change.”
“We cannot sit by and watch other media outlets openly reckon with their complicity in perpetuating institutionalized and structural inequities as if similar problems do not exist at The Star Tribune,” the letter adds. “This is not about one specific person but rather the structures that have allowed certain people to move freer than marginalized people in the newsroom.”