Principal Consultant Minal Bopaiah worked with the news managers of National Public Radio to help them understand and mitigate bias in sourcing and editorial coverage.

Background

National Public Radio (NPR) is an independent, nonprofit media organization that was founded on a mission to create a more informed public. It reaches 120 million Americans every month through its various platforms and collaborates with more than 1000 local stations to produce and distribute content that connects, informs, & inspires.

Challenge

NPR has been engaged in unconscious bias awareness efforts through its HR team, but its Chief Diversity Officer was looking for someone to engage its news managers on increasing unconscious bias in news coverage. This was complicated by the fact that the news managers did not have time for a half-day or full-day workshop.

Solution

Brevity & Wit proposed an interactive keynote and series of “coffee conversations” that would provide multiple touchpoints for the news managers.

Approach

Brevity & Wit’s Principal Consultant Minal Bopaiah delivered a 90-minute interactive keynote to the 80 news managers leading signature NPR programming like All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and its numerous programs and podcasts. The keynote established a foundational understanding of unconscious bias and how it relates to editorial decision-making. The keynote also explained the fundamentals of behavior change management, and the news managers broke into smaller groups to identify what change they wanted to see and what the obstacles to such change could be.

The first coffee conversation then took place two weeks after the keynote, and were peppered over a two month period. During that time, Minal and the news managers identified the behavior change they wanted to see by the end of the year (i.e., every journalist was logging demographic information about sources by the end of the year), and how they could design for obstacles to that behavior change. Minal also worked with leadership to ensure there was accountability for behavior change in the performance reviews of managers. The group also discussed monocultural and intercultural mindsets and how to have courageous conversations across differences.

Impact

The keynote was exceptionally well received, with one of the senior managers in Programming saying, “That session was great! The trainer was excellent – I’ve done a LOT of unconscious bias trainings and produced a lot of segments on the subject and she was really good. She had a really nice blend of data, personal experience, and tailored details specific to the org that I’ve never really seen all together and appreciated so much.” In addition, 100% of news managers surveyed after the talk said they understand how unconscious bias affects editorial decision making, and 85% said Minal created a safe space for them to talk about bias. The coffee conversations were similarly well received, with news managers stating, “I appreciate the opportunity to self-reflect and will give ample, thoughtful time to explore my conflict management style and power/privilege.” Most importantly, the coffee conversations got the news managers to agree to and develop a system for counting the diversity of sources they cite in their editorial coverage.