Sincerely, Leaders of Color: Lessons from SRCCON2021

Whisper networks, everyone needs help, what allyship means, and how there’s no universal answer to DEI

(Illustration designed by @stories on Freepik)

About this series: Sincerely, Leaders of Color is written for everyone in the journalism industry who cares about creating a more supportive environment for journalists of color to do their best work. Have a question for the team? Drop it here and watch for it in a future column.

We were privileged to attend and host a social session at this year’s SRCCON. Thanks to attendees for a lively session with lots of thought provoking discussion.

Without divulging details on individual situations, here’s a few things that are on our mind after the session.

There is no one-size-fits-all DEI answer and it can’t be done on a short timeline.

Let’s stop looking at DEI as a to-do item on our lists. It is a process and highly dependent on where your organization is starting. If your staff is relatively diverse, but you have poor coverage of communities of color, trust may be at the forefront of what you need to do. The work never ends.

Likewise, ideas around DEI will differ from person to person, community to community. Be open to learning a new point of view. There is no one, all-encompassing, correct answer. It helps to have more than one person and more than one perspective leading DEI efforts.

This work must also go beyond creating allies and recruiting to fill the pipeline.

Allyship means spending your privilege. Emma has written about how to specifically do this as a white ally. Some (including Emma) subscribe to the idea that you cannot call yourself an ally — others can call you that but you can’t determine if you are doing that. Recruiting is not just an HR function, but something for everyone to take part in. It may involve mentorship breakfasts and informational interviews. It is a long game, but not the only one on the field.

The Whisper Networks are real. And we are worried about them.

If your organization is trying to make strides to rectify past mistakes within the newsroom, the journey may be less of a hill than a mountain. External assessment of how to fix a burned reputation might help. Others suggested making sure listening is at the forefront of what is done, without anyone getting defensive or feeling challenged. As much transparency as you can give internally and externally is strongly encouraged.

Everyone needs help.

The allies. The JOC. Those recruiting and those looking for jobs. We heard in many spaces around SRCCON that people are tired. We all need a little kindness, and a little frankness.

One way we’re trying to help? A focus on spreading joy both personally and professionally. Does this work for you? We’d love to hear your examples of how you spread or find joy these days.

P. Kim Bui
Emma Carew Grovum
Leaders of Color

Reading List

Why, yes our reading links are a little self-promotional this week. We can all learn to brag better, yes?


  • P. Kim Bui

    P. Kim Bui is the director of product and audience innovation at the Arizona Republic. She’s focused her career on leading real-time news initiatives and creating storytelling forms for digital, print and broadcast companies catering to local, national and global audiences. Prior, she was editor-at-large for NowThis News, focusing on original, social reporting and breaking news. She was also deputy managing editor for reported.ly, a digital media startup specializing in social journalism. She’s been a speaker, trainer and teacher on leadership and digital journalism at universities, conferences and gatherings worldwide. She writes a newsletter for emerging leaders and managers, The Middles: themiddl.es

  • Emma Carew Grovum

    Emma Carew Grovum is a journalist and technologist in New York City. As the founder of Kimbap Media, she coaches and consults with newsrooms on key strategy areas including leadership, product thinking, and diversity/equity/inclusion.


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