Why are we doing this?
The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. has a duty to serve the Penn community accurately and responsibly through our coverage. To do this, it is important that the DP be a diverse, inclusive organization. More importantly, as one of the largest communities on campus, we aspire to build an environment where people from all backgrounds can grow and thrive.
The DP, 34th Street Magazine, and Under the Button have grappled for decades with the issue of diversity in the office. The 134th board of editors and managers is committed to making tangible progress in this regard, and this report is just one initial step.
We gathered our demographic data by sending a survey to all current DP staffers. The survey responses were anonymous and data was only considered in aggregate. While the response rate was approximately 80 percent, we believe the data paints a representative picture of our current staff demographics.
This is the first time we have done a comprehensive survey of the demographics of our community, and the plan is to repeat this effort each semester and to release a similar report annually. Just as we hold Penn and its community accountable, we want to hold ourselves accountable for improving diversity at the DP.
As a student media organization, the DP prepares students to seek careers in journalism, an industry generally lacking in diversity. Companies like The New York Times and ProPublica now regularly release comparable reports as they work to diversify their workplaces. By taking similar steps to make the DP more inclusive, we hope to do our part to increase the number of journalists from underrepresented groups who will go on to strengthen and expand public discourse.
This process is only just beginning. We want to hear from members of our community about the efforts we propose, and about anything else we can do to make the DP a better organization.
Spring 2018 demographic data
The options we listed for race were: Asian, Black, Native American or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, White, other, and prefer not to answer. We also included a separate ethnicity question for Hispanic/Latinx students. These options were based on the categories used by the United States Census Bureau.
Our staff is disproportionately white compared to Penn’s undergraduate population, and that’s even more true among our board of editors and managers. There is also a larger percentage of Asian students at the company than there are at Penn, though this difference in proportion is less pronounced.
Black and Hispanic/Latinx students are underrepresented among staff, and more so at the board level. While it appears that Native American and Alaska Native students are overrepresented at the DP, we believe this is likely a function of the differences between our approach and Penn’s approach to gathering data.
In Penn’s data, international students are placed in a category separate from other races. This effectively excludes 1,210 undergraduates from the University’s racial breakdown. In addition, because Penn only counts one race per student (unless they select “two or more races,” a separate category), international or multiracial students are not accurately counted in this regard.
We allowed students to check as many options for race as were applicable, which is why the sum of our percentages is around 118 percent. To that end, our data is not exactly comparable to Penn’s, but we still believe it is useful to look at these figures together as a means of understanding how representative we are of the student body.
Unlike many news organizations, the DP does not currently lack women on staff or in leadership. While Penn’s undergraduate population is roughly 53 percent women, 60 percent of our staff and 64 percent of our leadership board identify as female.
We’re proud that the DP has made progress in gender diversity over the years, but that doesn't mean that the company is a wholly inclusive space for women, or that we're going to stop working to ensure that it becomes one.
While Penn releases the percentage of admitted students who identify as first-generation or low-income, the University does not publicly release data on the percentage of current undergraduate students who identify as FGLI. For that reason, we are not able to determine how representative the DP is of the student body in this regard.
However, the data we collected shows a distinct difference between the proportion of students who identify as FGLI at the staff and board levels. This is a disparity that we hope to fix.
What are we doing about it?
The DP has a long way to go when it comes to diversity. The 134th board is determined to build a more diverse community, as well as a more inclusive workplace, and will do what we can to ensure that this commitment stays strong in the coming years.
We plan to continue measuring the demographics of our organization and share that information with our readers in order to be transparent about our progress.
We have formed the DP’s first diversity committee, composed of board members from a variety of underrepresented groups. DP leaders have met with leaders of minority groups on campus to discuss our diversity efforts, and will continue to do so. Listening and learning from these meetings is important to us.
However, in order to achieve our goals, it’s key that our leadership be diverse. As an independent student media organization, the DP is shaped largely by its elected student leaders. We believe that a diverse board committed to improving the DP will ensure that the company continues to prioritize the goals laid out in this report.
We already have sensitivity training for news editors and reporters, but we plan to work with experts from the Philadelphia journalism community to build on that training and to expand it to other departments, as well as the entire student board.
The data also shows a disparity between staff and board members who identify as FGLI. This is at least partially due to the significant time commitment required to be in a leadership position at the DP, which does not pay. We currently have a scholarship that grants stipends to board members who qualify for financial aid, in the hope that they’ll be able to spend more time at the DP. We’re examining this scholarship critically to figure out how we can make it more effective.
We’re also working with alumni to create a scholarship that helps students from underrepresented groups at the DP secure media internships over the summer. The DP will work to establish a fund in order to pay these students a stipend. One of the goals of this program is to encourage and better prepare recipients to run for board positions.
These are steps we plan to take, but we know they won’t fix everything, and we know they won’t fix things right away. We don’t have all the answers to this problem, but we are committed to finding them. We want to hear from you about how we can continue to make the DP a more inclusive, diverse place. If you have thoughts, suggestions, or questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We collected a range of demographic information from our staff and board. The graphs embedded throughout the editorial, as well as the following graphs, reflect all of the questions on our survey.
Penn does not collect data on sexual orientation, religion, or disability, so there are no available points of comparison for these categories. However, we still believe they are important to share. They are included in full below:
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.