The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) announced it will award NPR a $1.5 million grant to launch a major journalism initiative to deepen coverage of race, ethnicity and culture, and to capture the issues that define an increasingly diverse America. With this expansive effort, NPR will produce compelling stories and present new voices and conversations online and on-air, staffed by a six-person team.
"This new team and defined area of coverage will empower NPR to cover news and issues across the U.S. more fully, delivering on our promise for NPR to look and sound like America," said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of NPR. "CPB's forward-thinking commitment to diversity challenges public media to do more, and to do better, and we accept that challenge wholeheartedly."
Once assembled, this team of six journalists will deliver a steady flow of distinctive coverage on every platform. Reporting will magnify the range of existing efforts across NPR to cover and discuss race, ethnicity and culture. NPR will also create a new, branded space within NPR.org. The first platform is expected to launch this fall.
"We want to dive beneath the surface and capture real conversations that people are having about race and ethnicity," said Margaret Low Smith, NPR's senior vice president for News. "America is a fascinating and complex place - we want to shed light on that with original and nuanced coverage."
With this work, NPR hopes to grow on-going efforts to expand its audience with coverage that is welcoming and relevant to more people - reaching those who are more racially, geographically and ideologically diverse. The team's coverage will provide a portal for new listeners and readers, while enriching the content that NPR provides today to an audience of 26 million on radio and nearly 23 million online. The editorial team will also work across NPR to infuse more story ideas and diverse sources that reflect the world we live in - spanning beats and platforms to touch more of NPR. This initiative will serve as a model for future topic-focused channels.
CPB intends to provide initial support for the project with a two-year, $1.5 million grant, as part of its mission to strengthen and advance public media's service, particularly to those who are un-served or underserved by commercial media. "We are pleased to support NPR's efforts to strengthen public media's capacity to better serve our diverse country on-air, online and in the community. Public media belongs to every citizen, and this free and commercial-free service is more important to Americans than ever," said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB.
This initiative is part of a multi-year strategic imperative: to ensure that NPR "looks and sounds like America on air and online." Over the past two years, NPR has improved its staff profile, which is one of the most diverse in American media, infused its journalism with more diverse sources, experts and story ideas, and stoked the conversation about these important issues with staff-run workshops.
"At NPR, we're tackling diversity across a large swath of differences that include class, gender, ideology, sexual orientation, faith and, with this effort, race, ethnicity and culture," said Keith Woods, NPR's vice president for Diversity. "With this team, we'll report from the intersections where, as Americans, we meet and diverge. It's a topic that touches all of our lives."