SD-SPJ Surveying Diversity in San Diego Newsrooms

Newsroom staffing diversity plays a significant role in ensuring that a newsroom’s coverage reflects the communities it serves.

That’s why the San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SD-SPJ) is beginning an important project: surveying local newsrooms about staff demographics. 

With the support of other local journalism organizations, such as the San Diego Association of Black Journalists and the San Diego chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, SD-SPJ seeks to compile demographic data from local newsrooms, as well as information on what newsrooms are doing to increase diversity. SD-SPJ has sent requests to all San Diego print, digital, radio and television newsrooms for this information.

We’re conducting this survey to get a snapshot of San Diego’s newsroom demographics, which we hope will provide a benchmark for further research. While nationwide surveys have found that newsrooms are more diverse than in the past, there’s still work to do. For example, a 2019 survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association found that “the percentage of women and people of color in TV newsrooms reached record highs,” but a 2018 Pew Research Center study found that newsroom employees are “less diverse” than U.S. workers overall. 

We understand this is a difficult time for many journalism organizations. Still, we feel this survey is timely and can be a valuable resource for newsrooms as the economy improves and hiring returns to normal. 

Our plan is to publicly release the data, including a list of all participating newsrooms and a list of all newsrooms we’ve contacted. We will, ideally, hold a virtual event to discuss the findings. 

We’ve also asked newsrooms that are unwilling or unable to complete our survey to please let us know why.

You can see the questions we have asked newsrooms to answer by clicking here.

Who championed open government in 2020? And who blocked it?

Transparency FTW! The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is continuing our annual tradition of recognizing the most helpful — and least helpful — public agencies and officials through our Window, Wall and Sunshine Awards. 

And we need your help with nominations!

The Window Award will go to the person or public agency that most prioritized transparency and the public’s right to know in 2020. Our Wall Award will go to the person or public agency that made it hardest for journalists to do their jobs in 2020, ignoring requests or otherwise compromising the public’s right to know. And our Sunshine Award will go to a journalist or community member who worked the hardest to make the government more transparent and hold elected officials accountable.

Submit nominations here by Feb. 28, 2021. You can read up on last year’s winners (and losers) here.

Younger Journalists May Have to Wait for a COVID-19 Vaccination

Journalists across California have been delivering the latest news on COVID-19 vaccinations to the public, likely with one question in the back of their minds: When can I be vaccinated?

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wanted to find answers for our journalism community regarding California’s vaccine distribution plan. 

Originally, journalists and members of the media were included in the state’s Tier 1C for vaccinations, under the “Communications” employment category, which includes “Workers who support radio, television, and media service, including, but not limited to front line news reporters, studio, and technicians for newsgathering, reporting, and publishing news,” according to the state’s COVID-19 website.
But the tier system now appears to be irrelevant. 

Darrel Ng, the senior communications advisor for California’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, said the state is moving to an “age-based eligibility” plan for vaccine distribution.

“After the current Phase 1B, Tier 1, the remaining population will be prioritized by age,” Ng told us. “This is consistent with those who are most at risk for hospitalization or death from COVID. Phase 1B, Tier 2, and Phase 1C would no longer be relevant.”

When asked about those with pre-existing conditions, Ng said only that more details will be released in the coming weeks.

County of San Diego spokesman Michael Workman said, “The county is still trying to get further into Tier 1B. We are waiting for more granular guidance from the state.” 

Workman continued, “The only good thing about covid is that everything changes all the time. I hope this changes too.”

Naturally, we still have questions. SD-SPJ will continue to monitor this issue and keep the journalism community in the loop. 

SD-SPJ Launches Holiday Relief Program for Journalists Impacted by COVID-19

‘Tis the season for giving. Normally around this time of year, the San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists would be planning our holiday party for all those working in the media industry in the San Diego region. Due to the pandemic, that’s not happening this year but we want to give back to those in need. 

The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is launching a second round of our Journalist Relief Fund. We’ve allocated $250 for five $50 grants to media colleagues who’ve lost work during this tough year. We know it’s not going to cover things like rent, but we hope the grants will provide some relief. 

Those wishing to apply for a grant do not need to be members of SD-SPJ, but they must work (or have worked) in San Diego County. The application deadline is midnight, Dec. 27, 2020. You can fill out the application here.              

We are also accepting donations from those wishing to contribute to the SD-SPJ Journalist Relief Fund via our PayPal account so we can do more to help local journalists in need. Donations will be equally distributed to those who receive grants this time around. Please note: Donations are not tax-exempt, but they will go a long way. To donate, click here

For questions related to the Journalism Relief Fund, email spjsandiego@gmail.com.