The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) met with ViacomCBS Executive Vice President, Global Head of Inclusion Marva Smalls on February 13, 2020.
Candid discussions centered on diversity and inclusion (D&I) paths and the ViacomCBS commitment in the future following the merger of Viacom and CBS last December. The journalism organizations requested the meeting because members wanted assurances that diversity and inclusion were important components of future plans at the company.
The paths discussed centered on transparency and accountability in data and demographics. Participants agreed metrics associated with data and demographics are critical parts of accountability. Such accountability helps create newsrooms that are inclusive and reflective to better serve communities. All participants agreed to ongoing discussions around these topics and that those discussions coupled with a strong ViacomCBS plan and mutual accountability have the potential for desirable outcomes.
Ms. Smalls challenged the group to be mutually accountable by sharing specific challenges and opportunities during the groups’ ongoing discussions with ViacomCBS. The groups discussed the ongoing responsibility to respective memberships and industries as a whole to shed light on metrics to ensure hearing, learning and positive outcomes are obtained regarding D&I initiatives. The group also discussed opportunities broader than journalism that have an impact on D&I initiatives because ViacomCBS and other media companies’ interests also span entertainment and film, television, publishing and digital media. ViacomCBS signaled openness for future dialogue to engage the groups “collective brain trust” regarding D&I initiatives on all of its platforms.
The groups will be meeting separately with executives at CBS News and CBS Television Stations. The journalism groups want to share concerns about the current culture at specific station groups/ business units.
“Research has shown that prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion profoundly strengthens our organizations and our industry, bringing us closer to the ideal of reporting fully and fairly on our society. JAWS looks forward to working with ViacomCBS and the other affinity organizations in pushing for inclusivity and data transparency in the workplace,” said JAWS President Mira Lowe. “Knowing the facts allows us to see where we are making gains and where we could improve. Having and sharing data enables everyone both to stay accountable and to celebrate progress.”