Fall 2023 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report
By BRIANNA TANG
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director
A semesterly survey of the Daily Trojan’s Fall 2023 staff found that the percentage of staff who identify as South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, Black and white increased compared to Spring 2023. The proportion of Latine/Hispanic staff, however, decreased from last semester.
The Daily Trojan staff have participated in completing a semesterly diversity, equity and inclusion survey, a practice initiated in Fall 2020 with the goal of helping assess the demographics and identities of the student journalists committed to representing the University. The survey results allow us to transparently showcase the demographic composition of our staff and recognize potential areas for internal and external growth and improvement. Using the survey results allows us to delve deeper into the personal identities and dynamics of our team and how they can influence our collaborative workspace.
Spring 2023 Staff Diversity Report
The Daily Trojan analyzed data obtained in its internal Spring 2023 Diversity Staff Report, revealing increases in East Asian, Native/Alaska Native/Indigenous and queer voices.
The staff was given a week to complete a brief survey. It was distributed in late November, so those who left the Daily Trojan earlier in the semester or who were largely uninvolved — and thus did not truly represent our staff — were not included in our rosters. The survey captured the following demographic information: class standing, race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, record of disability, financial aid status, number of semesters on staff and occupational status. Most sections had a “prefer not to state” option if respondents felt uncomfortable sharing.
Last semester’s staff development and recruitment director added a new section to the survey in Spring 2023 to measure whether or not staff members plan to return to the paper after reflecting on their involvement during the semester. We hope that these staff responses will continue to inform newsroom culture and staff development efforts in future semesters.
In this semester’s survey, the Daily Trojan received a 57% response rate, with 147 responses out of a staff of 260, a decrease of our staff from 291 last semester. Out of the 29 members on masthead, which includes all senior editors, directors and managing editors, 22 responded. All six members of the managing team — which consists of the editor-in-chief, managing editor, digital managing editor and associate managing editors — responded to the survey.
There have been multiple slight increases in the racial and ethnic diversity of our staff from last spring. Respondents could select several racial/ethnic categories to identify with.
The most significant increases were observed in East Asian, Middle Eastern or North African, and South Asian staffers, constituting 31%, 7% and 12% of responses, which was up by 3, 2 and 2 percentage points, respectively. Meanwhile, responses from masthead members were 18% East Asian, 14% Middle Eastern or North African and 18% South Asian. The managing team is 17% East Asian, 17% Middle Eastern or North African and 17% South Asian.
Other portions of the race/ethnicity makeup remained consistent with previous semesters. There were slight increases in all other racial/ethnic groups, except for a 3% decrease in Latine/Hispanic staff responses, from 18% to 15%. The managing team is 17% Latine/Hispanic, compared to 14% of masthead respondents.
The proportion of responding Pacific Islander, Native American, South East Asian and Black staffers increased by 0.2, 0.5, 0.6 and 0.7 percentage points, respectively. Nine percent of masthead respondents identify as Black.
Staff respondents who identify as white increased by 4% and continue to represent the largest ethnic group with 39%. On masthead, 41% of responding editors and directors identify as white, compared to half of managing.
The staff largely consists of cisgender individuals, who account for 93% of the staff, a slight increase from last semester. The breakdown of cis men and women remained fairly consistent with last semester at 37% and 56%, respectively. There were slight increases in respondents identifying as trans men, gender nonconforming, nonbinary and agender individuals. All managing editors identified as cisgender, compared to 95% of masthead respondents. Five percent of masthead respondents identified as gender nonconforming.
Heterosexual staff still represent the majority at 63%, down by 2 percentage points from last semester. Queer representation increased slightly from 8.1% to 8.8%. Lesbian, gay and asexual response percentages rose slightly, while bisexual and pansexual representation dipped a little. Fifty-nine percent of masthead respondents are heterosexual and half the managing editors are heterosexual. The other 50% on managing identify as queer, compared to 27% of masthead. The remaining 14% of masthead respondents identify as bisexual.
Just over 16% of staff reported having a disability or a record of one, making the majority of staff reportedly non-disabled, the same as last semester. On masthead, 18% reported having a disability — a decrease from 31% last semester — and a third of managing reported having a disability.
With regard to class standing, sophomores and juniors represented a majority at 29% and 28% of staff, respectively. The freshmen cohort saw a decrease, representing 26% of staff in comparison to 33% last semester. The senior class saw an increase of 5 percentage point from last semester, and the graduate cohort experienced a 1 percentage point decrease. A substantial amount of staff joined in Fall 2023 at 50%, while 18% of staff are in their second semester in Daily Trojan, a decrease from 31% last semester. On masthead, 9% are freshmen, 32% are sophomores, 36% are juniors and 23% are seniors, with 27% being in their first semester on staff. On managing, 66% are juniors and 33% are seniors, and they have all been a part of the Daily Trojan for at least four semesters.
A little more than half of the staff are traditional University applicants, and a fifth of staff is first-generation, which is congruent with last semester. The percentage of low-income students decreased from 17% to 11%. Likewise, the percentage of international students decreased from 14% to 9%. Transfer respondents increased from 12% to 13%.
Just over 40% of masthead are traditional applicants, 23% are first generation, 9% are low-income, 18% are international, 18% are spring admits and none are transfer students. On managing, 17% are traditional applicants, 17% are first generation, 17% are international and 33% are spring admits.
Forty-seven percent of all respondents receive University scholarships and/or need-based financial aid. Half of staff work at jobs outside of the Daily Trojan. On masthead, 55% receive some form of financial aid and work a job outside of the Daily Trojan, compared to half of managing.
Semester recap and moving forward
This semester, our staff led a concerted effort to reflect our closely held values of diversity, equity and inclusion in our reporting through our style guide, Spanish language supplements and the creation of a DEI committee. This semester, we published two Spanish language supplements written by Spanish speakers and focused on diversifying our coverage of the Spanish-speaking community
The DEI committee reviewed and updated Daily Trojan’s style guide to follow the decision of USC’s Troy Phi to use the term “Pilipinx/Pilipino” instead of “Filipinx/Filipino.” Instead of “same-sex marriage,” we now use the term “marriage equality” for gender inclusivity. We also loosened style restrictions in our Opinion section so writers can use the language they feel most accurately represents the communities they are a part of.
This semester, we’ve also established a DEI committee to help ensure that we have a diverse set of perspectives when discussing DEI at the Daily Trojan. The committee is responsible for maintaining connections between the paper and affinity groups on campus to report on groups who don’t receive as much coverage. It is also the first point of contact for any staff concerns about DEI.
With the feedback we received in last semester’s inaugural staff development section of the survey, we have continued the assistant editor workshop program for the Fall 2023 semester, incorporated staff feedback to make the workshops more hands-on and created permanent training materials designed to last beyond the tenure of a single staff development director.
This survey was created to be a living document to further expand on improvements made each semester and monitor the development made each semester in helping evaluate the link between diversity and retention within the paper. This is a collaborative effort that we take to enhance inclusivity in our reporting across sections and the campus at large.