D&I at The Crimson
One of the core tenets of The Crimson’s mission is to represent a diverse community with our own staff and our coverage. For decades, countless Crimeds have dedicated themselves to improving diversity and inclusion at The Crimson, but we recognize that we as an organization have not done enough to support Black, Latinx, and other students of color on our staff and at Harvard College. As the nation’s oldest continuously published college daily, we also recognize our role as a training ground for the next generation of journalists and the impact we can have on diversifying the industry going forward.
Our Diversity & Inclusivity Committee has led our efforts to do better in this regard since it was formed in 2015. The committee serves three primary functions. We are a forum for staff members of all boards, guards, and backgrounds to voice concerns or ideas related to diversity and inclusivity in the building. We are the group who do the work of transforming those ideas and concerns into programs, policies, initiatives, or whatever else is necessary to improve student life, and an advisory body for the President on these issues. And finally, we are student resources in and of ourselves — people that other staff members can reach out to for advice on- or to discuss matters relevant to themselves and their work at The Crimson.
Mission of D&I and Role of Chairs
Each year, The Crimson appoints two to three staff members as chairs of the D&I committee. The chairs facilitate the D&I committee as a forum to discuss issues and brainstorm solutions; lead proactive building-wide initiatives related to diversity; and work to recruit and retain a staff that looks like the community we report on. Its work is done while bearing in mind the composition of the staff and The Crimson’s past failures with marginalized communities.
History of D&I
The D&I committee has formed a number of task forces in years gone by to examine what we can do to improve the diversity of our staff. Some of these past task force efforts’ focus areas include: Our workplace culture; Socioeconomic diversity in our staff; Our process for selecting new leadership; Internal mentorship programs; Our organization traditions; And social life in our building. Each of these task forces produced a report, a set of recommendations, or new initiatives that have been acted upon in order to improve upon the issues identified.
Through them, we have created new sensitive reporting policies, our comps have been made more accessible, our financial aid program clarified and publicized, our building more inclusive, and our leadership selection process more equitable and inclusive.
On all these fronts, however, work remains to be done. our Fall 2021 committee has streamlined its work so we can pursue more of these projects concurrently.
Current Initiatives and Working Groups
Content History Working Group
The Content History Task Force aims to produce a report that details previous reporting decisions that were insensitive or harmful to students, Cambridge residents, communities of color, or other marginalized groups. The report will include a summary of the decision, feedback received from our readers about the reporting, and actionable steps we have taken or will take to avoid a similar situation in the future. Eventually, this work will be publicly available on our website, along with being presented to staff members and compers.
Mental Health Working Group
The Mental Health Working Group is examining how events and historical conventions at The Crimson and within its individual boards impact the mental wellbeing of staff members. The working group has distributed a building-wide survey to gauge sentiments on organization-wide practices and their effect on mental health, along with reaching out to peer and professional newsrooms to understand how others are successfully promoting healthy workplace practices. This group will produce a report with a set of meaningful steps and initiatives with the goal of reducing the stress and mental toll staffers’ work at The Crimson take on them.
Comp and Recruitment Working Group
The Comp and Recruitment Working Group seeks to understand, improve, and standardize how Diversity and Inclusion is embedded into all of our recruitment and comp materials. Group members will meet with each set of comp directors to understand their current processes of attracting, teaching, and retaining a diverse comp class. They will solicit ideas on areas to improve The Crimson’s comps and where they could use resources or support. The end goals of this task force are: Creating and circulating a survey to collect, analyze, and document current students’ feelings on the comp; Crafting concrete recommendations that can be implemented by all comp directors; Developing an implicit bias training for compers.
Shoot & Leadership Pipelines Working Group
The Shoot and Leadership Pipelines working group is building on the work of the 2018 Shoot Task Force. Shoot — formally known as Turkey Shoot — is the process by which The Crimson elects its masthead. The group will examine the pathways that Crimson editors take to become leaders in the organization and how accessible those are to people of all backgrounds. Based on these findings, the group will design a set of reforms to our leadership selection process to be presented to the organization. The group’s central goal is to promote transparency surrounding the leadership selection process and ensure all editors have an equitable chance to rise up the ranks in and lead the organization.
Our People & Community
The D&I Committee in 2021 oversaw the launch of five internal affinity groups: BGLTQ+, Black, FGLI, International, and Latinx. Each of these groups is open to staff members from every board across The Crimson who identifies with them. They are designed to be social spaces, away from the work that we do, for people to form community, get to know one another, as well as seek mentorship and personal advice. Each of them has a set of leaders who manage a social budget to organize events for their members, and each of them may plan and oversee a set of events and special editions of the paper centered on their identities.
National Journalism Affinity Group Membership
Staff members on The Crimson’s financial aid program can receive subsidized student memberships to professional journalism affinity groups, including but not limited to the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association, and the Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
Please find attached here a copy of The Crimson’s 2021 Staff Diversity Report