The Managing Newsroom Diversity project (2021–2023) is centered on questions of voice, visibility and recognition as conditions and requirements of democratic participation. Project aims to explore news media organizations approaches to diversity alongside practical implementation of organisational change.
This project takes a communication-centered perspective of polyphony on diversity management in news media. Diversity management in this perspective becomes a dynamic set of procedures, structures and cultures that are designed in a way to allow for a range of individual opinions and societal discourses to get expressed and find resonance in newsroom settings. When the “polyphonic“ newsroom speaks (as news), many voices (i.e. individual and societal) speak through it.
Project is guided by three research questions:
RQ1. How is „diversity management as polyphony” motivated, managed and organized by people occupying different positions across national and regional, print, broadcast and digital born newsrooms in Sweden, the UK and Poland?
RQ 2. How members (journalists), working in newsrooms where the objective of increasing newsrooms’ polyphony is explicit, experience their work and relationship with other members and non-members?
RQ 3. How non-members (representatives of civil society, including minority media outlets), with whom newsrooms are working with the objective of increasing their polyphony, experience their relationship with these newsrooms?
By bringing together a diverse team of experts, with distinct skills, expertise, and key networks, we strive both for successful fieldwork and critical implementation of the project, but also for conceptual and empirical refinement of the field of media and journalism studies.
Sweden, Poland and the UK represent very different cases when it comes to the tradition of diversity management. On the one hand, the UK, due to its colonial legacy, is considered a heterogeneous society, and has a long diversity management tradition. Sweden is in transition, due to immigration and intake of refugees, from homogeneous to a more heterogeneous society, and while it has relatively little experience with diversity management, it still represents, at large, an open and liberal society. On the other hand, Poland is largely a homogeneous society, making international headlines in recent years for refusing to respect the EU refugee quotas, sending thousands of women to the streets in defense of their reproductive rights and declaring „LGBT-free zones” in one-third of the country’s municipalities.
We take a constructivist perspective on innovation in this project and understand innovation as a socio-economic process. As ‘polyphony’ is inherently relational and dialogic we aim to study the micro-processes that allow for a range of individual opinions and societal discourses to be expressed and find resonance in a newsroom setting. Such a focus on micro-sociological perspectives – i.e., the conditions and the day-to-day activities which encourage newsroom polyphony, gives social innovation new, structural qualities. The design of the project’s methodology provides a comprehensive lens to study the dynamics of micro-social settings of “polyphonic” innovations in selected newsrooms.
Project begins with “window studies” designed to find and choose research sites (newsrooms and media organizations) where something interesting (and potentially innovative) is happening in the field of diversity management. Different types of interviews will be employed in the project, including interviews as sites of narratives re-production (conducted with leaders, diversity managers, newsroom seniors and journalists), interviews as observation opportunities (via a version of a diary technique, called “information capture”, with interviewees acting as ‘internal observers’ for the research team) and finally interviews as opportunities for internal dialoging (via focus groups with participants ‘dialoging’ with the help of their ‘diaries’) (Czarniawska, 2014).