Source Diversity

As we continue our efforts to be more equitable, inclusive, and to hold ourselves accountable in representing the diversity of Metro Atlanta, WABE has updated its source tracker for the second quarter of 2021. The tracker documents the people we talk to as we produce news stories, programs, or other content affording 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. This is the second quarter of reporting our data publicly, so let’s see what has changed from our last report.

Q2 2021 Report

Similar to what we reported last quarter, the voices heard on WABE’s locally produced programs and segments during the second quarter align fairly well with some benchmarks but lack correlation with others:

  • 49% 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 36% of WABE sources during the reporting period.
  • Like last quarter, WABE still lags in representation of other groups:
    • The AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islander) category makes up approximately 6% of the metro population while 4.9% of the voices on WABE were AAPI, up a small amount from last quarter.
    • 11% of the community identifies as Latinx. WABE’s corresponding sources totaled just 4.4%, the same percentage as last quarter. We are actively working to increase this segment of our source.
  • In 2Q21, WABE featured more men in its local programming:
    • 54%% of WABE sources were men compared to 48% of the population. That’s a sizeable jump in male voices. Last quarter, 50% of those we spoke to were men.
    • Women as a share of the voices we present declined from last quarter. 40% of those with whom we spoke identified as women, compared to 49% in the first quarter and 52% of the population.
    • In our second quarter data, 5.2% of those we spoke with identified as transgender, non-binary, or another category not identifying as male or female. We are still researching the best data upon which to benchmark this metric.

Sources by Race

Sources by Gender

In addition to tracking ethnic and gender data, we also look at 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)                            29%
Artist/creator                                                                                              24%
Non-elected official (appointed officials and spokespeople)            17%
Member of the public                                                                               12%
Elected official                                                                                            10%
Reporter (debriefs with WABE, NPR, and others)                                 5%
Other                                                                                                               2%

Role of Source

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 continue to keep that as a goal.

Our reporting tracked a total of 548 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 is up from 504 last quarter. While this does not represent all the people we talked to, we are striving to reach 100% compliance on our tracking.

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 feedback@wabe.org.