The Awareness in Reporting initiative was conceived in early 2016 and initiated that summer when NAB sponsored a panel covering race and ethnicity at the joint conference of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) in Washington, D.C. That discussion was followed by a gathering of broadcast and news industry leaders, who explored and expanded on themes generated during the NABJ/NAHJ discussion. Over the ensuing months, the toolkit began to take shape, and we invited input from leading voices on journalism diversity and in journalism education and training.
The Reporting on Race Toolkit, the first to be published, includes ideas that can be implemented at a corporate level, by station managers and in newsrooms. The Reporting on Religion Toolkit includes information that will help reporters better understand various religious beliefs and practices and more fairly and accurately report on this increasingly important topic. The primary goals of the entire toolkit are better journalism, maintaining fairness and the wellbeing of field reporting teams.
Each toolkit considers that stations serve different markets that can greatly vary by size and demographic makeup. They offer practical, easily executable suggestions that can be applied in various regions of the country and market sizes, keeping in mind that no two stations' needs are the same. These toolkits can form the basis of formal newsroom training programs, be used during staff discussions or serve as a guide as stories unfold.
The Reporting on Race Toolkit is divided into six sections, beginning with an introduction and followed by ideas for news management; reporters, producers and writers; photojournalists; and corporate leaders. Areas encompassed in the suggestions range from story development to maintaining safety during tense or volatile situations.
The Reporting on Religion Toolkit is divided into 13 sections, beginning with an introduction that provides coverage basics that are applicable to any market and any newsroom. Eleven sections are devoted to helping reporters better understand various practices – including all significant religious groups and belief systems. Each includes links to additional online resources. This information will help reporters avoid stereotypes and myths while improving the quality and accuracy of coverage. The final section provides links to online resources that can help inform reporters about various beliefs and practices.
As work on this initiative progresses, we will publish additional toolkits. Ideally, however, none of the work is ever completed as we view this as an ongoing, organic process that takes into consideration the evolving dynamics of covering sensitive topics. To keep this content current, we will continue to seek the input of NAB member stations, professional industry organizations, industry leaders and journalism educators.