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The Eagle’s fall 2023 diversity report

The paper’s staff has greater Black, South Asian, Middle Eastern, male and nonbinary representation than in spring

The Eagle has released a staff diversity report for the past two years in our efforts to increase diversity and maintain transparency for members of the American University community.

The results of The Eagle’s fall 2023 demographic survey indicate a large decrease in multiracial, Latino, Hispanic and East Asian representation and an increase in Black and South Asian representation among staff.

Staff diversity report

The data for the staff diversity report were collected through The Eagle’s fall 2023 staff acceptance form, which all staff members filled out upon acceptance to The Eagle. The form asks optional demographic questions about race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and financial aid status.

This semester marks the largest known Eagle staff at 118 members.

According to the form, the number of staff members who identify as white increased from spring 2023, from about 68 to 71 percent. This figure is nearly 15 percent higher than American University undergraduates overall.

Data from the acceptance form also shows an increase in Black representation, up 3.3 percent from the spring, and a decrease in Hispanic, Latino, East Asian and multiracial representation. The percentage of staffers who identify as Middle Eastern or North African increased, with 2.5 percent compared to 1.8 percent in the spring.

The majority of staff who chose to disclose their sexual orientation identify as heterosexual, up from about 49 percent in the spring to 50 percent. This semester, nearly 44 percent of staffers identify as LGBTQ+, the same as last semester. Among those who self-identified as LGBTQ+, there was an increase in staffers who identify as bisexual and queer and a slight increase in lesbian representation.

Although the majority of staffers identify as female — continuing a trend from the past few semesters — the percentage of female staffers decreased 9.3 percent from the spring. This semester has seen a significant increase in staffers who identify as male, from 16.5 to about 24 percent, and an increase in gender-neutral/nonconforming staff members.

The vast majority of staffers identify as nondisabled, continuing the trend from previous semesters. 10.2 percent of staffers identify as disabled this semester, slightly up from 10.1 percent in the spring.

The staff demographics show a sharp decline in staffers who receive a Pell Grant; the current percentage is nearly half of the spring’s 13 percent of Pell Grant recipients. One-third of the staffers who responded to the question receive federal financial aid, but not the Pell Grant.

Most staffers are students in the School of Communication, with a total of 81 staffers in SOC, 32 in the School of Public Affairs, 21 in the College of Arts and Sciences, 12 in the School of International Service, four in the Kogod School of Business and one in the School of Education. This data accounts for students who have majors and/or minors in more than one school, which explains why the total sum is greater than the total number of spring staffers.

DEI fall efforts

The Eagle’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group continues to meet biweekly and is committed to improving the diversity of its staff and coverage.

At the most recent meeting, the DEI group discussed The Eagle’s coverage of the Oct. 11 rally for Israel and the ethics of reporting on such a complex and polarizing issue. The group specifically went over The Eagle’s decision to retroactively grant anonymity to one of the student sources in this story and brainstormed best practices of attending student rallies, protests and demonstrations of this nature going forward.

Editor-in-Chief Abigail Pritchard summarized key points from her meeting with John Watson and Amy Eisman, SOC professors who specialize in journalism ethics. An Oct. 24 letter from the editor described The Eagle’s practices for covering the Israel-Hamas war and explained the reasoning behind The Eagle’s language choices.

On Nov. 6, The Eagle hosted Sherri Williams, a professor in SOC, to lead staff in a workshop about the benefits of including diverse sources. Also in November, The Eagle will host Aarushi Sahejpal, a data journalism professor in SOC, who will lead a workshop on using data for DEI-related reporting. 

This article was edited by Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.

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