A Letter From Former WFAE CEO Joe O'Connor About Our DEI Initiatives
For years, WFAE has strived to reflect the diversity of the community it is licensed to serve at all levels of its audience, staff, on-air voices, news sources, partners, vendors, Board of Directors and Community Advisory Board as well as create among the most inviting, welcoming and enviable multi-cultural working environments in the public media system, if not the nation. Fulfilling this ambition is key to not just our market relevance and competitiveness, but to our finally achieving the goals set for us by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and the 1968 Kerner Commission report.
We welcome your active participation in not only holding us accountable to these commitments but also partnering with us to achieve our goal and mission of true community service for all.
WFAE has implemented many trainings and initiatives to improve our diversity, equity and inclusion in recent years. Here are some of our most recent examples:
- In February 2021, WFAE’s staff participated in a new online diversity-awareness session. We followed up with an in-depth, one-day training in April 2021. Both trainings are mandatory for present and future employees.
- Our newsroom has hosted multiple multiplatform reports, series, conversations, public forums and podcast episodes devoted to not only focusing on issues of systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of prejudice but also on building bridges of understanding.
- WFAE has successfully partnered with Report for America, Google and Facebook to hire additional reporters to cover diverse communities in partnership with well-established local media of color such as Q City Metro, La Noticia and The Charlotte Post. In addition, WFAE is part of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which includes QNotes serving the LGBTQ community in the Carolinas.
- WFAE has joined the NC Media Equity Project with six other media organizations to advance diversity, equity and inclusion for the state’s residents. Participants gather quarterly to learn best practices from leading experts, hold each other accountable and share lessons learned.
- WFAE is developing a new platform called Story Mosaic with the Reese Innovation Lab at UNC Chapel Hill for anyone in the Charlotte area to suggest stories to any participating local newsroom. Story Mosaic provides metrics to hold us and other newsrooms accountable if there is a failure to respond. In essence, this will be a cutting edge, digital and easy to use check on the countless stories in diverse communities that newsrooms everywhere have left uncovered.
- In May 2021, staff volunteers launched an internal diversity committee guided by additional training to address individual employee concerns, develop metrics for inclusion, and encourage concrete steps for the foundation of a remarkable company culture that welcomes and celebrates diversity.
- WFAE will continue to participate in job fairs with the Online News Association, Public Media Village and the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists as well as other area job fairs based on WFAE’s recruiting needs.
Some of WFAE’s diversity goals for the coming year include:
- Strategic employee recruitment from not just professional and civic organizations with a diverse membership base but with constant executive outreach to build a pipeline of diverse talent.
- Implementing strategies and tactics to help reporters expand the diversity of their sources and topics.
- Tracking the diversity of our audience, staff and on-air hosts/voices.
- Expanding existing partnerships with media of color.
- Expanding current fellowship programs to hire additional diverse news staff.
- Working with diverse business associations to diversify station vendors.
- Determining diversity metrics in collaboration with the aforementioned staff diversity committee and the newly established, permanent Equity and Fairness Committee of our Board of Directors.
This list does not reflect all of our diversity work currently. Therefore, it will be updated regularly. In addition, the station will issue a diversity report in the coming weeks that will offer specific statistics on audience, staff, content, sources, on-air voices, vendors, our Board of Trustees and Community Advisory Board.
I am terribly excited about all of these initiatives to help fulfill our vision to create a more knowledgeable community base on our shared humanity.