A NewStart Introduction

May 14, 2021

Today we'd like to introduce you to another member of our second cohort of NewStart fellows. 

Larry Graham spent the majority of his career leading sports departments in newsrooms across the country. He's worked at ESPN.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Kansas City Star, to name a few. Most recently, he served as deputy director of local news transformation at the American Press Institute where he built the tablestakes.org website. He is also on the board of directors for the APSE Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering diversity in sports departments, and co-chairs its flagship program, the Diversity Fellowship. In addition he is a faculty associate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant for Loyola University New Orleans School of Communication & Design.

As part of his NewStart research, Larry wants to help community newspapers survive and thrive. There are significant diversity issues within news organizations across the country, as documented in articles like this one from earlier this year. If a newsroom isn't diverse, it doesn't represent the community it covers. And if the community doesn't feel connected to the newsroom, it will look elsewhere for its news and information and leave that legacy publication behind.

I invited Larry to share some of his thoughts on diversity, his goals in the NewStart program, and what it means to all of us in the industry. Take it away, Larry...

A series of incidents stand out in my mind from when I was performing some consulting work in addition to a full-time job. I shared a couple of those incidents with my respective supervisors. One involved borderline racism and the other implicit bias. They both dealt with the color of my skin, and the reactions were completely different.

One organization offered me hope for what journalism could be. The other, unfortunately, reminded me of what journalism still is.

That’s one of the many reasons I’m building a company that helps identify and destroy barriers to advancement for diverse journalists. We'll support their career growth and help journalists find a home with the right organization.

I can't do this alone. Through the NewStart local news ownership initiative, I'll gain a better understanding of the business side of journalism, and I'll learn more about the thousands of small, local newsrooms that remain profitable and welcome the help in diversifying their newsrooms.

One of the longest stints in my career was at The Lee's Summit Journal, a small, bi-weekly newspaper outside of Kansas City, Missouri. It was also one of the most inclusive organizations I've ever been a part of, and where I developed lifelong friendships.

Now, this isn’t an overnight endeavor. This is an uphill climb with a boulder on your back, barefoot in the rain and mud, with no time for breaks.

But so what.

We already know some of the specific hindrances to diverse newsrooms. We’ve all heard the phrase, “I don’t know where to find diverse candidates.” Oftentimes, that’s the end of the story.

Instead, it fuels my desire to build a company that helps organizations find the most qualified diverse job candidates. We’ll solve the diversity pipeline problem while erecting new systems for mutual learning between job candidates and the hiring managers.

In short, we’re going to change the world.

Thanks, Larry, and welcome to the NewStart program! If you would like to see how Larry can help your organization set and reach diversity goals, or if you would just like more information about what he's doing, feel free to send him an email at [email protected] or on Twitter @ByLarryGraham.

If you'd like to join Larry in our second year of the program and earn a master's degree in Media Solutions and Innovation from WVU's Reed College of Media, there's still time to apply. Our next cohort will start learning virtually at the end of June, so if you want in, check out the program details here, and then follow the instructions here to apply.