Open Letter to Pulitzer Prize Awards

Update, April 29: We have asked that the Pulitzer Prizes plan to announce its intent on or before the 2022 award announcement on May 9, 2022, and highlighted that our appeal gives the Pultizers more than a year to figure out the exact details of implementation. We also offered our support to help make this commitment a reality.

On April 22, OpenNews and more than 50 organizations representing journalists across the U.S. called on the Pulitzer Prizes to help improve diversity and transparency in the news industry. We asked the prize committee to add one requirement starting in 2024: In order to be eligible for a Pulitzer Prize, a news organization must publicly share data about staff demographics. News organizations could report their data through a survey from the News Leaders Association, or in another industry reporting system.

We’re calling for action because right now, many news organizations are failing at this kind of accountability. Nieman Lab reported on April 12 that there was “crushing resistance” to participation in the NLA’s annual diversity survey: The group planned to gather data from 2,500 organizations, and in the end, only 303 completed this important survey.

At OpenNews, we know how powerful data can be in holding the powerful to account. Many newsrooms have said they want to address racial injustice, but if we aren’t even willing to measure where we’re at, how can we build a more equitable future for journalism? As an industry, we demand transparency and accountability from the institutions we cover — we cannot hold ourselves to a lesser standard.

Individual signers and organizations can join the effort to push for diversity transparency in the news industry. Add your name or organization here.

The most up-to-date list of organization and individuals signers is on our shared open letter.

For questions, contact Sisi Wei, co-executive director of OpenNews.

To: The Pulitzer Prizes

April 22, 2022

Marjorie Miller
The Pulitzer Prizes

Dear Marjorie,

We are appealing to The Pulitzer Prizes to help us improve the diversity and transparency in the news industry. On Tuesday, April 12, Nieman Lab reported that there was “crushing resistance” by news organizations to participate in an annual diversity survey by the News Leaders Association. The group planned to have 2,500 organizations participate and in the end only 303 completed this important survey.

That is unacceptable.

Our country is reckoning with racial inequity and many in the journalism industry can’t or won’t provide essential newsroom transparency on staff diversity. If we can’t collect crucial data, how do we expect to improve newsroom diversity and represent our communities? NLA is the only organization that has collected this essential data for more than 40 years and it must continue, but it will only continue if news organizations are incentivized to participate in these demographic surveys.

We are asking your organization to promote this survey and reporting of demographic data by adding the following criteria to your selection process for Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism:

In order to qualify for an award, organizations must provide proof of participation in the most recent general survey/census by the News Leaders Association or another industry reporting system that shares data publicly, effective 2024 (i.e., they must participate in this year’s data collection to be eligible for awards/funding in 2024).

By implementing this new criteria, the Pulitzers would honor not only great journalism, but journalism from newsrooms willing to be accountable to the public. NLA supports this addition to the Pulitzer's criteria for entry, and is committed to prioritizing this survey and working with newsrooms to increase participation.

Journalists have an ethical duty to be accountable and transparent. We must be accountable to our readers and our workers by making sure our newsrooms reflect the demographics of our readers. And we must be transparent with that data to improve the diversity of our newsrooms so they can operate at their full potential.


100 Days in Appalachia
Africa Institute for International ReportIng (AIIR), Minnesota
AIR (Association of Independents in Radio)
American Journalism Project
American Press Institute
Anchor media
The Appeal
The Arab & Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA)
Arizona Luminaria
Arizona Press Club
Asian American Journalists Association
Asian American Journalists Association, Philadelphia chapter
The Baltimore Banner
Bay Area Reporter
Bay City News Foundation
The Beacon (The Kansas City Beacon and The Wichita Beacon)
Black Video News
Bridge Michigan
California Health Report
Capital B
Center for Cooperative Media
Center for Ethical Leadership in Media
The Center for Independent Journalists
The Center for Investigative Reporting
Center for Public Integrity
Central Current
City Limits
Cityside Journalism Initiative
Clarisel Media
The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ)
Colorado Community Media
Colorado Media Project
The Columbia Journalism Review
Community Info Coop
Connecticut Health I-Team
The Conversation U.S.
The Current Media
Dallas Free Press
Define American
Democracy Fund
EDM Publications
The #FightToWrite Initiative
Flatwater Free Press
FMB Radio
Four Points Media
Free Press
GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Georgia News Lab
Get Current Studio
Health Stuff TO Know
High Country News
The Hofstra Chronicle
The Ida B. Wells Society
Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance
Independence Public Media Foundation
Institute for Media and Public Trust, California State University, Fresno
Institute for Nonprofit News
International Women's Media Foundation
Investigate Midwest
Investigative Newsource dba inewsource
The James B. McClatchy Foundation
Journalism Funding Partners
The Kansas City Defender
Lede New Orleans
LION Publishers
Los Angeles Times Guild
Madison Minutes
Making Contact (aka International Media Project)
The Marshall Project
Media 2070
Media Alliance
Media and Democracy Project
Media Bridge Partners
Media Guild of the West, The NewsGuild-CWA Local 39213
Media Innovation Collaboratory/TrollBusters
The Mendocino Voice
Military Veterans in Journalism
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
Milwaukee Newspaper Guild
MindSite News
MLK50: Justice Through Journalism
Mojatu Foundation (Mojatu Magazine)
The Morning Call Guild
National Association of Black Journalists
National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
National Association of Science Writers, Inc.
Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
Native News Online
New York Public Radio
News Catalyst
News Media Guild
News Product Alliance
News Revenue Hub
The NewsGuild of New York
The NewsGuild-CWA
NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
North Carolina Local News Workshop
The Objective
OnlySky Media, Inc.
Our Body Politic
Outlier Media
Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists
The Pivot Fund
Prison Journalism Project
Public News Service
Puerto Rico Sun Communications
Racial Equity in Journalism Fund
Racine County Eye
The Record Community News
Reality Team
Renaissance Journalism
Reporte Hispano
Resolve Philly
The Roanoke Rambler
Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
Sahan Journal
San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists
Society of Professional Journalists
Society of Professional Journalists, Oregon Pro Chapter
Solidarity Journalism Initiative
Solutions Journalism Network
South Asian Journalists Association
Southern California Public Radio (KPCC + LAist + LAist Studios)
Spotlight PA
The Texas Tribune
The Tiny News Collective
The Trace
Trans Journalists Association
Tucson Sentinel
United Media Guild - CWA 36047
The UpTake
URL Media
Verified News Network (VNN)
Vision25: Building Racial Equity in Newsrooms
Vox Media
Washington-Baltimore News Guild
West View Media
Whong Community Media
Writers Guild of America, East
WURD Radio
YR Media

Let us know if you want to add your name or organization.

posted April 22, 2022 | posted in OpenNews