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Reuters scholarship to move the needle on newsroom diversity

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Reuters hopes to move the needle on newsroom diversity.

Reuters is providing opportunities to budding African-American journalists via a new scholarship programme launched in partnership with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). 

Valued at US$40,000, the scholarship funded by Reuters and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications is open to all NABJ members applying to the school.

More than financial aid, recipients of the Reuters-NABJ scholarship will also receive an opportunity to participate in the Reuters summer internship programme, as well as have access to mentoring by its team of experienced editors.

A key objective of the initiative is media diversity, seen as a necessary tool to ensure objectivity in reporting and news that are representative of the American populace.

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“A diversity of perspectives is essential to news gathering in order to better reflect the world in which we live,” said Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler. 

“We’re steadfastly committed to building this kind of diverse and inclusive workforce – and to increasing diversity throughout the industry by developing the talent of the next generation of journalists.”

Despite the changing face of America, recent figures have shown that newsrooms across the country still fail to reflect national diversity makeup.

In the American Society of News Editors’ 41st annual Newsroom Diversity Survey released in September, diversity numbers in legacy print newsrooms remained the same as it was last year, with only 22 percent of staffers being people of colour while even fewer at 19 percent were holding leadership positions.

For comparison, people of colour make up 24 percent of the American population.

Diversity is improving in the online-only media world, however, with one-third of full-time staffers being journalists of colour. While this points to a promising trend, the data on the whole still reflect some areas of concern, “particularly at the newsroom leadership levels”, said Meredith Clark, the project’s lead researcher and an assistant professor at the University of Virginia.

Efforts like the Reuters-NABJ contribute towards efforts to change this.

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“Reuters and Medill are two of the most influential forgers in journalism,” NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said.

Reuters is the world’s largest multimedia news provider, employing som 2,500 journalists in over 200 locations across the globe.

“As a proud NU alum, and with great appreciation for Reuters’ ongoing partnership with NABJ, I am thrilled about the impact this scholarship will have on our student members and for generations to come! 

“Now more than ever, we need these types of partnerships to further the cause of media diversity and strengthen the field of journalism,” Tucker said.

Medill Dean Charles Whitaker agreed, saying the partnership between the news organisation an NABJ would help further the media diversity cause.

“We’re thrilled to work in partnership with Reuters and NABJ to reward a terrific student with this distinguished fellowship,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. 

“Medill recognises and supports the need to make newsrooms more diverse and filled with excellent reporters. This new fellowship will support our efforts to do that.”

Candidates must be NABJ members to qualify for the scholarship, as well as meet requirements for admission to Medill. The programme will begin with applications for the 2020 school year for students who wish to start the summer quarter.