Why job postings could save journalism (or at least make it more diverse)

I’m talking about the gender gap in online news tomorrow afternoon at SPJ’s Boston conference, and I’ve been struggling with how to present the audience with concrete recommendations for improving a rather dismal situation.

A renewed commitment to monitoring press diversity is a good start, as are training programs and grants for underrepresented populations. Ann Friedman has another suggestion I’m adding to my list, one that’s both simple and brilliant: Post your job openings.

As Friedman writes on CJR.org, it’s all too common for hiring editors to seek private recommendations without ever publicly announcing open positions:

They want specific names, not exposure for their listing. This makes me want to scream. Is your hiring process really that top-secret? Are you too busy to consider applications from people who haven’t already been vetted by someone you know? Or are you just lazy about spreading the word? And if any of these things are true, why are you surprised that you’re not getting a diverse group of applicants? 

Mandy Jenkins made a similar suggestion on her (always awesome) Zombie Journalism blog, and she offers some specifics on how to spread the word about open positions:

Post your jobs early on and spread them to your social networks, your real-life networks and email lists for organizations like ONA, NABJ, AAJA, NAHJ, JAWS and many more journalism organizations. Treat the process earnestly. You never know who might be quietly looking for work that you know…and more importantly, you never know who you don’t know that might be perfect for your job and they just need to hear about it…When you say you are an equal opportunity employer, actually mean it. If qualified women and journalists of color don’t know about your job, they can’t apply. That isn’t an equal opportunity.

What other techniques can hiring editors use to increase staff diversity?

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