Changing Racial Narratives Project Launches Survey on MN Media and Race

Findings will inform March conference for media professionals and educators

Editor’s Note: Following is a press release from Minnesota Public Radio regarding the Truth and Transformation: Changing Racial Narratives in Media project. ThreeSixty Journalism is a founding partner in the project.

For media inquiries contact:
Ka Vang, Project Manager

ST. PAUL, Minn. — How confident are Minnesota news professionals in their ability to accurately reflect the experiences and stories of people who are from a racial or cultural group that is different from their own? How much cultural competence training have they received? What would increase journalists’ ability to tell more complete and accurate stories of Indigenous people and communities of Color?

A new statewide survey aims to find out.

Developed by Wilder Research and the APM Research Lab, this first-of-its-kind survey will help to inform the Truth and Transformation: Changing Racial Narratives in Media Conference, a free event to be held March 19-20 at Hamline University. The conference is being organized by six organizations — Minnesota Humanities Center, KMOJ/89.9 Radio, North News and KRSM Radio, ThreeSixty Journalism at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota Public Radio, and Hamline University.

The partnership is funded by the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations, which in 2017 received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) work in the areas of racial healing and relationship building, narrative change, law, separation, and economy. The Truth and Transformation partnership also receives support from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund from the State of Minnesota and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through the Minnesota Humanities Center.

Most media diversity surveys focus on staffing and sourcing. The racial narratives survey goes deeper in hopes of understanding how and how much media professionals think, care and know about combatting racial bias in their work, and what training would help to increase their ability to tell more complete and accurate stories of Indigenous people and people of Color.

The survey, which will be active Jan. 15-Feb. 3, is being emailed to news professionals and disseminated through professional organizations, including the Minnesota Newspaper Association, Twin Cities Black Journalists, and the Minnesota chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and Asian American Journalists Association. Respondents should only take the survey once. Findings will be released at the March conference.

The unique event will bring together community and mainstream media professionals, media educators and journalism students from across Minnesota to understand the impact that racial narratives have on individuals, communities and trust in media – and how they can collaborate to change it. Modeled after the Minnesota Humanities Center’s Absent Narratives Approach™ the two-day workshop will encourage participants to draw on their own experiences and learn from voices across the state that have traditionally been left out.

“The news media play an important role in how Minnesotans see the world and the world sees Minnesotans. So it’s important that we understand how racial narratives can create inaccurate and damaging portraits of indigenous people and communities of Color – and work collaboratively to change them,” said Ka Vang, MPR’s director of community engagement and impact. “The future of our industry depends on it.”

Accuracy and bias rank among the most important factors the public uses in deciding what news media to trust, according to research from the Knight Foundation. The Trust Project — an international consortium of news organizations working to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy, fairness and inclusion – listed a newsroom’s efforts to bring in diverse perspectives as one of eight key factors in building trust with audiences.

“Currently media is consumed by voices that do not adequately represent those that labor and live in the communities we serve; through our innovative enterprises, North News and KRSM, we want to work in partnership with other media entities to foster better connections and relationships with community,” said Adair Mosley, President and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities.

“This conference will be a full immersion for those that seek to have a deeper understanding of more underrepresented communities and how to effectively co-create with communities they represent daily. It will not shy away from tough conversations faced by communities but highlight the humanity that rests under every story told.”

The conference is expected to fill up fast, so media professionals, students and educators are encouraged to reserve their spots today. The tentative conference schedule and a comprehensive FAQ are available on the Truth and Transformation website.


About Truth and Transformation: Changing Racial Narratives in Media

Truth and Transformation: Changing Racial Narratives in Media is a community-media initiative that aims to change problematic racial narratives and their representation in local news media. The project is funded by a grant from the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations, with support from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund from the State of Minnesota and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations

We believe in the best of Minnesota and the power of its communities. With roots in Saint Paul and partners across the state, we are Minnesota’s largest community foundation and the partner of choice for thousands of donors, nonprofits, and community organizations. We inspire generosity to make Minnesota better for all who call it home.

About Wilder Research

Wilder Research, part of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in Saint Paul, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and evaluation center dedicated to the field of human services. Wilder Research issues nearly 150 reports per year to improve understanding of major social issues and identify effective ways to strengthen individuals, families and communities.

About the APM Research Lab

The APM Research Lab is a division of American Public Media aimed at informing the public by producing credible research- and analysis- based content. The Research Lab conducts research projects of all types — surveys, demographic analyses, literature reviews, and more — and informs the work of partner organizations and the broader public through traditional reports, as well as infographics, blog posts, interactives, presentations and other platforms.