We made a commitment last year to figure out how we're reflecting the diversity of our community in the voices you hear on KUT. We started with a baseline of the first three months of 2018, when we weren't paying attention, to get an idea of the diversity of voices on-air.
In September, we started tracking the demographics of our sources on an ongoing basis. We’re looking at a few attributes: gender, race/ethnicity and expertise.
Now that we have a few months of data, here’s an update on what we’re seeing.
In the first quarter of 2018, we found that the vast majority of our sources were men: 69 percent of the sources you heard on-air. Obviously, this is not representative of the community as a whole. While we saw some fluctuation in the gender breakdown in September, October and November, we have seen the male/female split narrow significantly.
We also looked at whether gender biases existed based on the gender of KUT journalists. We have seen a narrowing of the male/female source divide among both male and female journalists. But the progress seems more pronounced among our female journalists, who make up about half the newsroom.
When we looked at the first quarter of 2018, we found that we were heavily skewed toward white sources: 75 percent of our sources were white in our baseline sample.
In September, that share declined to 55 percent — much closer to the actual demographics of Central Texas. However, we have seen some increases in the share of white sources in subsequent months. In November, 64 percent of our on-air sources were white, 17 percent were Latino/a, 14 percent were black, 2 percent were Asian and 1 percent identified as two or more races.
Here’s the trend over time.
When we established our baseline in regard to the expertise, we found a heavy reliance on government sources. We were concerned this presented a skewed impression of events related to government and reinforced our reliance on white, male sources — since many top officials in Austin and Texas are white men.
Here's the breakdown from January through March of last year.
As we moved into tracking sources on an ongoing basis, we decided it might be useful to break down the government category into a few subgroups and to add a few other types of expertise not included in our baseline.
The data from September, October and November 2018 shows a continued reliance on government officials, but does show progress in other areas. Our increasing inclusion of voices in the "general public" category means we're getting a perspective closer to the ground — how real people are experiencing news events. However, there continues to be much room for progress on both fronts.
This data is open to interpretation. You could see a continuing pattern of underrepresentation of people of color in sources — which is true. You could also see incremental progress from our baseline measure in the first quarter of 2018 in both gender and race/ethnicity — which is also true.
The data is shared with staff regularly, and we have set increasing source diversity as a top goal for the KUT newsroom in 2019. Developing new and more diverse sources is a process we are dedicating significant effort to this year.
We will continue to track this data and share the trends we see.
A note on our methodology: We hired a part-time employee, Sangita Menon, to gather and process the data about our sources. She spent 160 hours going through all the material KUT produced for broadcast between Jan. 1 and March 30 of this year – that included everything from newscasts to interviews to longer reported stories. We did not include multiple versions of the same story appearing on the same day. Our researcher first consulted with the reporters to identify the gender, race and expertise of their sources.
Beginning in September, reporters began asking sources how they identify at the end of interviews or following up with them later. Most sources provided information, though a small percentage declined to answer.