It’s easy for a company of any kind to talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion and to make noise about how it values a diverse workplace.
TEGNA is doing more than just talking about it at its 49 newsrooms across the country,
“Inclusion has always been one of the core values of TEGNA. Our country’s awakening — some like to say racial awakening or social awakening, but really it’s an awakening to the experience of marginalized people across multiple identities — it caused many companies to ask themselves the question, including TEGNA, how serious are we about this?” says Grady Tripp, TEGNA’s chief diversity officer. “In business, regardless of the industry you’re in, what gets measured matters. And what gets measured gets done. It’s one thing to say it’s important. It’s another to have tangible goals and some accountability to match the rhetoric.”
Last year, TEGNA established a series of five-year goals to make sure it was standing up and taking action to live the stated value it places on being a diverse and inclusive company.
“It’s critically important that the team that’s deciding what gets covered in a community looks like the community,” says Eric Valadez, a content director and co-lead of TEGNA’s Inclusive Journalism Program. “We have a group of passionate, dedicated journalists who come in every day, do their best to understand what are the issues taking place in that community, how do we use our resources to find truth in storytelling, hold the powerful accountable. If we don’t look like our community, we’re missing an opportunity to tell those stories and have the impact we want. It’s paramount to serve the communities we cover.”
Studies repeatedly show that companies that have a diverse workforce outperform their peers in almost every way.
“We know the diversity of background and perspectives when it comes to decision making allows companies to outperform their peers, which is important for employees and shareholders,” Tripp says. “At TEGNA, our purpose is serving the greater good of our community. Our community represents people who watch our broadcast. It also represents our clients, some of the nonprofits we work with. It’s important the editorial decisions or solutions we’re creating for our clients, that we have diversity in leadership roles in particular so we’re making decisions that are based on the broadest perspective possible.”
TEGNA’s goals are centered on increasing representation for people of color, including making its newsroom staff and leadership reflect the diversity of their audience — underrepresented communities make up 36 percent of TEGNA’s audience, so the company wants to make sure, within five years, people from those communities make up 36 percent of the company’s staff. Additionally, TEGNA has set a goal of increasing to 50 percent the number of people of color in leadership roles by 2025, and will include questions on diversity and inclusion in surveys given to new hires, people leaving the company and current employees on a regular basis.
“There’s tremendous support from our leadership to be able to really start working with newsrooms on how do we make changes and improvements,” Valadez says. “We talked about an inclusive journalism program. We wanted to approach not just training you’d have for a couple of days or hours and then you’d move on. It’s about fundamental changes in how newsrooms operate and who has a voice at the table. … The second part of the program; we’re a results-driven organization. We want to understand if we’re having an impact.”
TEGNA worked with an auditing company to devise a method for auditing stories on all platforms to determine how inclusive coverage is, how that’s measured and how representative TEGNA is in each of its markets. All 49 newsrooms were audited and results were provided back to each leadership team to begin a discussion on what changes were needed.
Grady Tripp and Eric Valadez are the chief diversity officer and content director, respectively, for TEGNA Inc. They tell It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell about the development and implementation of TEGNA’s companywide Inclusive Journalism Program.