In an effort to be more equitable, inclusive, and to hold ourselves accountable as we seek to better represent Metro Atlanta’s diverse communities, WABE has implemented a source tracker for its locally produced programs and segments. The tracker documents all the people we talk to as we produce news stories, programs, or other content that provides an opportunity to hear from the people of metro Atlanta. The goal of the tracker is two-fold:
- Understand who we are talking to when we seek out sources for the stories we tell.
- Determine if the representation of people we speak to aligns with the demographic composition of the Atlanta metro area.
We then use these findings to adjust who we pursue as sources in order to make a better match to those who live and work in this area.
Q1 2021 Report
The voices heard on WABE’s locally produced programs and segments during the first quarter of 2021 mostly align with metro Atlanta’s diverse demographics, but there are still some areas for improvement:
- 50% of WABE’s sources were White, compared to 46% of the metro population.
- African-Americans make up 34% of metro Atlanta’s residents and represented 39% of WABE sources during the reporting period.
- WABE lags in representation of other groups:
- Asians make up approximately 6% of the metro population while 4% of the voices on WABE were Asian.
- 11% of the community identifies as Latinx. WABE’s corresponding sources totaled just 4.4%.
- WABE featured women and men in its local programming almost equally:
- 49% of WABE sources were women compared to 52% of the population, while 50% of the people we talked to were men.
In addition to tracking ethnic and gender data, we also look what role a person plays when they are speaking to us. Are they speaking as experts on a certain topic, elected or non-elected officials in some capacity, as artists and creators, or maybe simply a member of the public?
Role of source:
Expert (those speaking from relevant experience) 32.7%
Non-elected official (appointed officials and spokespeople) 20.3%
Member of the public 13.1%
Elected official 12.2%
There are no benchmarks for these measurements, but it helps us to know if we are getting a desired mix of voices on our air. For example, we’d like to see the percentage of public sources closer to the sum of the elected and non-elected officials so that we hear more from people who live and work in our region. We will work on that in the months ahead.
You might be interested to know that over the reporting period, we totaled 504 tracked sources appearing in our various news stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered and local programs and podcasts such as Closer Look, City Lights, and Did You Wash Your Hands? That does not yet represent all of the people we talked to, but we are striving to reach 100% compliance on our tracking as we get used to the system.
What do we do with this data? In addition to sharing it with you, we dive into it as a team, using the findings to guide our reporting. For example, the low indexing of Asian voices (and during a period where we reported on the Atlanta spa shootings, a story with numerous Asian sources) shows that we need to make a greater effort to seek out Asian representation for our stories and segments. To achieve that, WABE is committed to engaging communities that are under-represented in our coverage That’s just one of the steps we’ll take as we continue to examine how the people of WABE reach, understand, and cover the people of Atlanta.
We’ll update the tracker every quarter, sharing our progress with you. Please check back to see how we are doing and if you like, share your comments with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.