Amanda at Clockwork’s HQ for the first MN Tech Diversity Meetup.
Photo credit: N. Musinguzi

 

Amanda Williams
Amanda Williams

In June we announced our alignment with the MN Tech Diversity Pledge movement launched by Clockwork, a Twin Cities interactive firm led by Nancy Lyons.

We promised to update you on our inclusion journey via this blog. Inclusion and diversity goals are embedded in APMG’s strategic plan – both in terms of staffing and audience. So much activity is happening that contributes to these goals, it’s actually a challenge to track it. That’s one of the things Amanda Williams has on her plate, in the newly-created role of Culture & Inclusion Director.

Amanda joined APMG in September and immediately got to work building our relationships with the MN Tech Diversity partner organizations such as Clockwork, BrandLab and Penumbra Theater. In her words:

I attended the inaugural MN Tech Diversity meetup on October 11th, a gathering of companies who have pledged to put resources, energy and attention to attracting and retaining talent from communities underrepresented in the Twin Cities tech sector.  It was fun, informative, and inspiring.  As a new employee at APMG responsible for culture and inclusion, I was happy to see the enthusiasm and genuine commitment of all of the partner companies making the MN Tech Diversity Pledge.  I look forward to this continued collaboration as we work toward a more inclusive culture here at APMG.

We’re excited to have Amanda on board! This new role is a commitment to further the inclusion goals we’ve set forth as an organization, building on the momentum of many other activities, initiatives and the commitment of leadership.

Team Marketplace: Kristina Lopez
Jeni Hatfield, Donna Tam, Meggan Ellingboe, Katie Long, Raghu Manavalan, Michelle Mencio, Hayley Hershman, Marcus Galamay

We have exciting news to report – Team KPCC finished in 3rd Place out of 24 teams at the 2016 Asian-American Journalists Association Trivia Bowl! Team Marketplace made a strong debut by breaking into the Top 10.  Just ahead of KPCC in the top 2 spots were the two teams from the Los Angeles Times. The Trivia Bowl tests knowledge on current events, science, history, geography, California, sports, pop culture, literature, and arts & entertainment. These were tough questions and obscure facts. APGM

The Trivia Bowl is the signature fundraising event of the AAJA, supporting students who pursue the journalism profession; providing increased training to Asian American and Pacific Islander journalists so they can be effective leaders for positive change in the industry with a commitment to diversity in the newsroom, and forging stronger ties within the AAPI communities.

We’d like to recognize the following KPCC team members for their hard-fought achievement:

capturekpcc
Team KPCC: Ben Bergman
Kevin Ferguson, James Kim, Sachi Kobayashi, Roy Lenn, Mary Marcus, Aaron Mendelson, Becca Murray, Quincy Surasmith, Maura Walz

Thank you to those from Marketplace for coming out and building a foundation for future participation.

Brian Newhouse
Brian Newhouse

Submitted by Brian Newhouse, Host, Managing Director, Classical Programming

On Monday, October 3, I was thrilled to host the first-ever joint concert between two choral supergroups: Cantus (based in Mpls) and Chanticleer (based in San Francisco). Classical MPR broadcast the sold-out concert live from Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis on a number of platforms including a Facebook live stream.

This was exciting for several reasons:

  • They’d never done this before, as they are essentially competitors. (Imagine if Infiniti and Lexus decided to make a really cool car together – in our backyard!)
  • The groups were inspired to collaborate after a chance encounter last February. They happened to find themselves touring in the same area and agreed to go into a bar and sing together; a grainy five-minute iPhone video of that night went wildly viral, drawing nearly one million views in 24 hours.
  • Orchestra Hall was sold out for the October 3rd concert; so Classical MPR was the only way anyone else could enjoy this concert.
  • With huge credit to our colleagues managing the broadcast and technical details, we fed video/audio of the concert directly into Facebook Live, via our Choral Stream page. This was in addition to our live radio broadcast on Classical MPR and the classicalmpr.org stream.
  • We asked both choirs to share Choral Stream links to their networks of fans around the country, and the world.
  • And we created an audience engagement piece to support our connections goals, too.
The combined choirs of Cantus and Chanticleer will perform at Orchestra Hall on Oct. 3, 2016. Photo provided by the artists
The combined choirs of Cantus and Chanticleer. Photo provided by the artists

It was such an honor for me to host this historic event, but what was especially cool was watching the Facebook Live action while I tried to keep one eye on what was going on, onstage! We averaged 1500 viewers at any time during the concert. And about 20,000 people viewed the live feed for some length of time, and another 15,000 have watched the on-demand video excerpts. (Sadly, we’re going to have to take the videos down due to the rights agreements we abide by.)

It was so gratifying to see comments stream in during the concert from Australia, Japan, Germany, the UK, and dozens of States here in the US. The very best thing, though, were how heartfelt the comments were, one after another, that thanked Classical MPR for offering this service to those who couldn’t make it to Minneapolis.

by Eric Garcia McKinley
Engagement and Inclusion Senior Research Analyst/ACLS Public Fellow

Photo credit: Eric Garcia McKinley

I am now eight weeks into my new job in public media. The position is exactly as new to American Public Media Group as I am: Senior Research Analyst for Engagement and Inclusion (read more about it here). My general assignment is to develop a method for tracking the demographics of sources on which MPR News relies, and to help devise strategies for making news coverage and programming more distinct, diverse, and inclusive.

The work will entail thinking about the broad range of experiences that inform perspectives. I’ll start with some of the things that influence the way I see the world: I am a cisgender straight male in my mid 30s. I am Latino, but I am also white. I don’t speak Spanish. I grew up Catholic, but I’m an atheist. And yet, “Catholic” remains part of my identity. I have a PhD in European history from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with an emphasis on German and Jewish history (I do speak German, and German Catholics were a part of my research). Politically, I’m liberal with a preference for the word progressive. Identity is complex, and while it can’t be reduced to a set of demographic information, the pieces help. Analyzing demographics is just one way I can help MPR News gain a better understanding of itself and its audiences.

Before getting to that though I have to learn not just what journalists do, but how they do it. So for the past several weeks, I’ve attended daily news huddles, shadowed reporters, and gone into the studios to observe live radio production in action. I attended two tapings of Counter Stories, and I wrote a blog post about about one of them. I was continually reminded of the importance of language when it comes to matters of inclusion.

Every industry and organization has its own vocabulary that makes sense to insiders but might sound strange to outsiders, and public media is no different. But words are more than just industrial quirks. Language can influence action.

One of the first new words I learned was “vox.” I asked someone what it meant, and I learned that it was a news story reliant upon a reporter’s voice. I later learned that the shorthand was “vcr,” for the alternative “voicer.” Someone in the newsroom later sent me a “radio glossary” with more new words.

One word excluded from the list, probably because it’s not a technical term like “voicer,” is “talker.” I always understood the term to mean long-winded, as in “They’re real talkers over there so clear your schedule.” And Seinfeld taught me, years ago, that people can also be “close talkers” and “low talkers.” In public media, people are often divided into “good talkers” and “bad talkers”—judgments regarding whether or not someone can authoritatively speak in clear and concise sentences in a manner that demonstrates investment in the topic, is easy to understand, and is pleasant to hear (at least, that’s a synthesis of what my colleagues have told me). It’s not that “bad talkers” never make it on the air, but they have to hold a powerful position to get there. A politician can be a bad talker and still get air-time. Given the medium of radio, there’s a clear rationale behind the good talker/bad talker dichotomy. Still, I’ve wondered if there isn’t something of a “talker tyranny” that filters out engaging and diverse guests and content. I don’t yet know the nature of it or how to get around it, but I’m thinking about it.

I’m also thinking about how the meaning of words changes. Language evolves. I learned that lesson while writing a dissertation that parsed the meaning of terms like religion, confession, and race over the course of 60 years of German history as part of the process of defining who did and did not belong within the German national body, as well as who decided. Likewise, the definition of terms like diversity and inclusion continually are debated.

Understanding and respecting the history and context of words and how they affect people differently is one way to combat microaggressions—words and actions that may unintentionally reinforce stereotypes but are no less exclusionary because of it. As I write this, MPR employees are participating in workshops about microaggressions and unconscious bias. These trainings should occur in every workplace, but they’re particularly necessary in an industry where the choice of words shapes public dialogue, influences attitudes, and drives behavior.

What else it will it take for MPR News to be more relevant to more people, especially those often marginalized in media? How will the sound and language of public media need to change? For instance, what effect would replacing “good talker” with “inclusive talker” have on the voices and perspectives journalists choose to amplify? This is some of what I hope to learn in collaboration with my colleagues and the broader community.

I’ll be posting here about this process, and I invite you to be part of it. Submit your thoughts, ideas and questions here or email them to emckinley@mpr.org

submitted by Sarah Eldred

Meet Ellen Bartyzal, a senior at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Ellen was one of the two Eichten News Fellows this summer at Minnesota Public Radio. She applied for the program because she knew former Eichten Fellow, and they had “nothing but good things to say about their summers at MPR.”

From Ellen: I have learned so much at this internship! I’ve learned about interviewing, reporting and writing concisely for radio. I’ve also learned a lot of technical skills through recording interviews and sound with state-of-the-art recording equipment and then editing and mixing that sound into a story. I’ve learned about voicing pieces for radio and how challenging it can be to find your voice and express that in your stories. I learned these things from all of the work that I did day-to-day, but I learned so much more from just observing others in the newsroom.

Give Ellen’s story a listen. We think she’s found her voice!

The Gary Eichten News Fellowship is a partnership between MPR and two affiliated schools: the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. One student from each school works full time from June to August in the newsroom learning how to write, report and produce for radio, calling on news sources, editing and assisting with other production tasks.

Ellen shared these insights about working in the newsroom while reporters covered the Allina nurses strike:

They [reporters] need to be sure to report on the facts, but also be aware that some sources may
have their own agenda. I saw the high standards that MPR holds for what is accurate and fair. I had a greater appreciation for this organization after seeing the great lengths that Lorna Benson  (Ellen’s supervisor) went through to gain all of the facts and make an educated decision regarding the story.

bartyzal-and-eichten
Ellen Bartyzal, Gary Eichten and Amanda Furru