A Message From WFDD's General Manager
A Message From WFDD’s General Manager
It has been a year since George Floyd was murdered, and since our country entered a period of reckoning long overdue. We have witnessed racism rear its ugly head in myriad ways, and watched protests and calls for justice unfold. As we reflect back on this past year, I want to explicitly state the values and beliefs that all of us at WFDD hold dear. Let me be very clear. I, and all members of our staff, denounce racism in all its harmful forms and we are allies to people of color. We believe that Black lives matter—it’s simply human decency. We categorically reject all forms of discrimination, including, but not limited to, misogyny, sexual and gender discrimination, religious intolerance, and age and ability discrimination.
We’ve had a diversity statement for years, and we believe that statement is important. However, we also believe that any statement is only as good as the strength of our character and our actions. I want to take this opportunity to share openly the steps we have been—and are—taking toward growing our staff in a way that represents the communities we serve. Having a staff that more accurately reflects the diversity present in our communities will make us a better public service.
We have made great strides toward our goals over the last few years . . . but we acknowledge that we have a long way to go before even thinking we have been successful. Here are some things we have been working on and what you can expect in the near future:
- We have worked to increase the diversity of our community advisory board (CAB), which advises WFDD management on programming and outreach, to match the diversity we see in our own communities. These efforts have been underway for a few years, and I feel we are finally getting close to where we should be. One of our most recent CAB members was chosen for his years of HR experience working directly to build diversity at large corporations.
- WFDD is increasing our work with our Hispanic and Latinx community. When we saw that there was a lack of COVID-19 information in Spanish, we created a Spanish version of our Coronavirus blog; it soon became our most visited page at wfdd.org. We’re building on that good work: WFDD has now been awarded a grant by Report for America that will establish a full-time bilingual reporting position in our newsroom, whose sole beat will be the impact of COVID-19 on the Hispanic/Latinx community and what recovery looks like.
- We have been planning our next expansion of newsroom reporters to specifically focus on radically changing the diversity of our reporting team, because the diversity of our newsroom does not reflect the diversity of our communities and this must change. We intend to add these new positions as our reporting needs continue to grow, so that we can better serve our audience. This is also made possible by increased listener support.
- We are purposeful about monitoring our local news coverage to make sure we include a broad representation of people from our communities. We are actively auditing our reporting in order to measure this and build goals for the future.
- Our Hive® education program, which offers for-credit courses in our local school system, is specifically designed to teach the craft of journalism to a diverse student population. This initiative is led by a bilingual journalist who has taught and studied around the world.
- We’re strengthening our partnerships with regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), to bring a greater diversity of students into the inner workings of the station, through internships in journalism, marketing, Hive, and other WFDD initiatives and departments.
- Public media as an industry struggles with a lack of diversity, making recruitment within the system a challenge. We have been planning a fellowship program for students of color to train and nurture young journalists, so that they may envision public media as an option for their future career.
- We are studying our practices and the language we use, and participating in trainings and discussions created for our team and for our industry, to ensure we approach everything we do from a place of inclusion.
- We are committed to returning to this statement to assess our progress in the work we need to do, and to issuing follow-up reports, in an effort to hold ourselves accountable.
Our work is far from over. The good news is, when we as a community recognize that these things are real problems, we also recognize that there are building blocks to solving them, and we all have a part to play in seeing positive change. We invite you to help us in this journey. We are open to any thoughts, comments, or suggestions you may have. Being the best public service we can be is our mission every day, and we take the trust you place in us very seriously.
Tom Dollenmayer, WFDD General Manager