T-Squared: The Texas Tribune’s 2020 diversity report

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Jacob Villanueva/The Texas Tribune

A year ago, we told your about our plan to better diversify not just The Texas Tribune's newsroom but our entire organization. Our goal, set out in our strategic plan, is for our staff to look more like Texas — more like the audience we want to reach.

This is essential to our success. Journalists from different backgrounds offer a variety of perspectives on how we cover news and what we consider newsworthy in the first place. From top to bottom, the Tribune must have a staff that reflects the demographics of a rapidly changing state. Diversity — not just race and ethnicity but also gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, disability and age — leads to better journalism.

Here's how we're doing. Of the 17 people hired since we overhauled our hiring practices in mid 2018, 60% identify as people of color. That's progress, but we have a lot of work left to do to ensure that our mission-driven, nonpartisan newsroom — which tells critical stories on Texas politics and policy — is as diverse as it should be.

Because we believe in transparency, our 2019 annual report — which we're publishing today — includes information about the demographics of our staff. Here are the top lines:

  • Twenty-one percent of our colleagues are Hispanic, compared with 17% a year ago. Nearly 40% of Texans are Hispanic, according to census figures.
  • Five percent of Tribune staffers are black, a percentage that did not change from a year ago. That’s compared with 12% of Texans.
  • Eight percent are Asian, up from 7% a year earlier. Five percent of Texans are Asian.
  • Sixteen percent of our staffers consider themselves fluent Spanish speakers, compared with 13% a year ago. Twenty-nine percent of Texans speak Spanish. (Worth noting since we cover an incredibly diverse state: We also have colleagues who speak other languages, including Mandarin and French.)
  • Fifty-seven percent of our employees are women, compared with 55% a year ago. Fifty percent of Texans are women and girls.
  • Of our 15-person management team, a third are people of color. Overall, 33% of the Tribune's 61 staffers, not counting our amazing student fellows, are people of color, compared with 30% a year ago. Of the staffers who report and edit news, about 40% are people of color. Fifty-nine percent of Texans are people of color.
  • We have also been aggressively diversifying our board. In 2019, we added two black directors, an Asian American director and a Hispanic director. Of our 15 board members, six are people of color. Four board members are women.

The policies we've adopted to improve the diversity of our staff bear repeating. We’ve boosted our presence at conferences designed for journalists of color, with a goal of forming relationships for current and future job openings. We’re posting jobs publicly and widely, working to ensure that the language in job posts doesn't discourage prospective applicants and actively recruiting candidates of color. Hiring committees — cross-departmental panels meant to ensure that a variety of perspectives are at the table — evaluate our candidates.

We'll continue to share our progress. The good news is that we have plenty of opportunities ahead to diversify our team. Our fast-growing organization plans to hire about 25 people this year, including new positions in our local news revenue lab and the Texas Tribune/ProPublica investigative unit — whose lead editor, recently announced, is Pulitzer Prize winner Manny García. Look for job openings here, and hold us accountable as we work to produce a second decade of superlative journalism.