Ben Casselman
Tue Dec 31 16:35:37 +0000 2019

One of my goals this year was to be more aware of the diversity (or lack thereof) of my source list. To that end, I've been tracking (as best I can) the gender and race of everyone I quote in my stories.
In the interest of accountability, some stats:

Overall, of the ~400 people I quoted this year, 42% were women and 15% were people of color. Close to half were white men.

Note that "race" is in many cases my own best guess -- I didn't always ask people about their racial identity. On gender, I did track people who identified as non-binary, but the numbers aren't large enough to present here.

Other notes:
- On multi-byline stories, I didn't distinguish between ppl I called/my colleagues called. But I excluded stories where I contributed only data analysis.
- Stats are for final versions -- in some cases (e.g. the jobs report), quotes drop in/out as stories evolve.

Focusing specifically on people I quoted as experts (mostly economists, but also political scientists, industry analysts, etc), 44% were women and 11% were people of color. Again, close to half were white men.

Among people I quoted as examples/anecdotes ("regular people," survey respondents, business owners, etc), 40% were women and 25% were people of color. Just under half were white men.

(There is also a third group of officials/spokespeople/etc. where I had little choice about whom to quote. They are included in the totals but not in the breakouts. I tried to use this category sparingly, since it's an easy cop-out.)

Some brief thoughts: This is the first year I've tracked this systematically, so I can't compare to prior years. But I suspect the act of tracking this led to more diversity in my source list, which was part of the goal.

I would say I didn't do too badly on gender diversity this year, although my goal for next year will be true parity (or maybe I should overshoot to make up for this year!).
I clearly have a long, long way to go on race. That will be a focus for 2020.

Interestingly, my sources were significantly more diverse in stories that weren't written on deadline. That suggests that I'm doing a good job searching out sources when I have time, but that under deadline pressure, I fall back on a core group of white guys.

Two final notes: First, gender and race are clearly NOT the only measures of diversity that matter. Geography, ideology, socioeconomic status and many, many other factors are also important.
Race/gender are just relatively easy to track, and are a good starting point.

Second, I'm started doing this because I believed it would improve my journalism. A year in, I'm even more convinced of that.

It's very easy as a beat reporter to fall into a trap of calling the same dozen people for every story, even when they're not really the best/most knowledgeable expert on a particular topic. (See above re: "core group of white guys.")

This exercise forced me really to think about whom I was calling and to seek out new voices. Even when I ended up quoting a white guy, it was often a different (and more appropriate) white guy than the ones I'd called in the past.

And, of course, very often the best person to call was *not* a white guy, which became clear once I spent time going back to the literature or pushing past the first (proverbial) page of my source list.

One lesson you learn over and over again as a reporter (or at least, I've had to learn it over and over again) is that it is *always* worth making the extra phone call. Anything that pushes us to do that is valuable.

Anyway, I don't want to add too much commentary here, because the real point is to put out these stats for accountability. I plan to repeat this exercise in 2020 and will report back.
Happy new year!

Tue Dec 31 16:35:49 +0000 2019