Long overdue: Denver Post union commits to diversifying newsroom, coverage

Dear Denver Post readers,
It’s past time we sent you this letter.
Just as we work to hold elected leaders and powerful organizations accountable and demand transparency, we expect the same of ourselves and our organization.
In the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd last year, several of the Post’s journalists began meeting in July to examine the newspaper’s role in perpetuating systems of racism and inequality and to seek solutions. The group of journalists created a list of action items, solicited the approval and input of the newsroom’s union members, and in September presented the ideas to local management. Several of the newsroom’s managers then joined our group to begin work on the stated goals, including publicly posting a letter committing to change and acknowledging how The Denver Post has previously not represented all of Denver’s communities fairly — or at all.
For months, we worked with local management to craft a letter, which management then sent to corporate lawyers and human resources personnel. But the board of Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that owns this newspaper, earlier this month rejected the release of the letter. They did not approve of language admitting the harms The Denver Post — like many other local newspapers — has caused marginalized communities.

We want a newsroom committed to telling the stories of people who are excluded or underrepresented in the pages of The Denver Post, and to giving those stories the resources and prominence they deserve.

Alden Global Capital’s decision is shameful and cowardly. It is impossible to implement change without acknowledging past wrongdoing.
We won’t let them stop us. We are committed to reversing the inherent structures in journalism that have excluded marginalized communities for generations. If Alden Global Capital won’t let us use The Denver Post’s platform to tell you this, the union will use its own.
We want a newsroom that is continuously committed to changing its culture internally so that people of all backgrounds are supported in their careers and feel welcome in our newsroom. We want a newsroom committed to telling the stories of people who are excluded or underrepresented in the pages of The Denver Post, and to giving those stories the resources and prominence they deserve.
We aim to work with newsroom management to advocate for and create lasting and sustainable structures, practices and policies that address these issues, with or without the support of our corporate owners — or rather, in spite of their indifference.
Here is what we’ve been working on, in collaboration with managers:

  • Creating an audit of who we feature in our newspaper to better understand who is underrepresented. We plan to conduct reviews quarterly.
  • Developing a mentorship program for new hires and interns to foster a more welcoming environment. This launched in February.
  • Strengthening our relationships with organizations that represent journalists of color and varying gender identities as well as local universities to create a more organized pipeline for hiring and recruitment.
  • Integrating language recommended by the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the Trans Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association and others in our coverage. This is to ensure we are using the most accurate language possible when reporting on underrepresented communities. We also hope this will open the door to discussions in our newsroom about the language and terminology we use.
  • Creating and maintaining a program where Denver Post reporters will meet regularly with community members to seek diverse opinions and feedback on coverage. The sole purpose of these events will be to reach and establish trust with underrepresented communities to reshape our reporting to better reflect Colorado’s communities.

We’re calling on our company and owners to:

  • Actively ensure recruitment practices reach candidates in underrepresented communities so our candidate pools for jobs and internships include those groups.
  • Make its own commitments to improving diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Provide professional diversity and anti-racism training for our staff and managers on an ongoing basis.
  • Improve the quality and tenor of The Post’s online comment section by removing it completely or by employing a moderation service so that every comment is read and approved before appearing on the website.

We understand we cannot make such impactful, deliberate changes overnight, and that’s why we need your help. We want to hear from you about what’s working, what’s not and what we can do to be better. We encourage you to hold us accountable.
We pledge to listen.
The barriers faced by people of color, including in our own newsroom, require intentional, immediate changes. We cannot continue to report about the longstanding inequities and struggles of other businesses and hide from those discussions within our own organization that affect not only hiring and retention but also our coverage.
We cannot be complicit.
The Denver Post staff does not represent the makeup of our larger community. Our coverage is not reflective of the diversity within our city and state. And we have failed to make these issues a priority.
Based on self-reported data, as of the beginning of August 2020, only 11% of our non-management staff members identified as Latino or Hispanic, compared to the state’s 21% (a percentage that is likely an undercount and is expected to grow substantially in the years ahead). Only an additional 6% identified as any race or ethnicity other than white.
We want The Denver Post to be successful and to be the paper that all communities of Denver and its surrounding areas can turn to for reliable and accurate information. We believe this is not only the right thing to do, but that it is also crucial to our longevity as a business and a community institution.
We understand the frustrations you and many across the country have with Alden Global Capital. We are frustrated, too. But we cannot do this work or make these changes without your support. Subscribe to support the journalists in this newsroom who are committed to keeping you informed and pushing for change.
This work is as important to us as it is to you.
The Denver Post Newsroom unit of the Denver Newspaper Guild

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