Schiller responds to NABJ by “laying out the numbers”

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NPR released its staff composition stats after the National Association of Black Journalists questioned the network’s commitment to diversity. “I couldn’t agree more that NPR must increase the diversity of its staff–particularly in management and editorial,” NPR President Vivian Schiller wrote in an Oct. 29 letter to NABJ leaders. “I believe our diversity efforts are best served through transparency, so we are going to lay out the numbers for you.” NPR’s management pool, which NABJ expressed concern about in an earlier letter to Schiller, includes 47 staff who describe themselves as people of color; that is nearly 24 percent of 199 managers at all levels of the network. Diversity among executive management is 11.8 percent. More than 22 percent of 58 news and programming managers are people of color; 14 percent are African-American. “Another concern not addressed by NABJ or Schiller is that the only on-air African American male is Juan Williams, who is not a staff employee,” writes NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard, in a recent column. “Over a year ago, NPR’s management put him on contract as a news analyst.” The lack of diversity within NPR management was apparent to Shepard when she joined NPR two years ago. “Since then, there have been diversity meetings, committees, surveys, and they all conclude . . . NPR must focus on diversifying its staff, especially if NPR wants to better reflect the population and continue to expand its audience.”