Sourcing More Diverse Experts

by June 10, 2019

Including diverse experts can help make your coverage more reflective of your readership (Photo by rawpixel.com via Pexels, Pexels License)

Several recent projects aim to raise awareness about journalists quoting predominantly men. For instance, the Gender Gap Tracker has the goal of raising awareness about this issue in English-speaking Canadian media.

This problem is not limited to North America. The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London commissioned research that found 77 percent of experts quoted in online news articles by the main news outlets in the UK are men. Male voices are especially dominant in financial media, so The Financial Times now has a bot that automatically warns journalists if they’re quoting too many men.

Of course, gender isn’t the only factor reporters should consider as they try to include more diverse voices in their coverage. Quoting people of varied races, abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and geography (depending on the reach of the publication; national pubs often tend to quote people on the coasts but that’s moot if you’re writing for a local paper in Omaha) are a few other ways to make stories more inclusive.

Remember that someone who identifies as part of a particular group isn’t just an expert on, say, being Latinx or living with a disability. They may have all kinds of expertise on topics unrelated to their race or sexual identity, so try not to pigeon-hole someone based on a single identifier.

So, where can you find underrepresented voices to quote?

Here’s a list of online platforms for diverse sources arranged in alphabetical order.

500 Women Scientists: Women conduct research in virtually every area of science but their contributions aren’t always recognized. This website has a request a scientist section where you can find a female scientist who’s expert at whatever topic you’re covering.

AcademiaNet: This portal connects journalists with female academics in a range of disciplines. As of this writing, the website was being restructured but the database was still accessible.

Disabled Writers: This website lists the profiles of writers and expert sources with various disabilities. These profiles contain multiple identifiers such as “woman of color,” “wheelchair user,” or “nonbinary,” so if you’re looking for a very specific, needle-in-a-haystack type of expert, you might hit the jackpot here.

Diverse Sources: This directory lists underrepresented voices in the areas of science, health, and the environment. Many of these experts have ties to academic institutions and many speak multiple languages.

Equity at the Table (EATT): This website describes itself as “an easy-to-navigate database for food industry professionals featuring only women/gender non-conforming individuals and focusing primarily on POC and the LGBTQ community.” So, if you need to interview a pastry chef, a sommelier, a food historian, or some other food professional, look no further.

InterviewHer: This website lists female experts on peace, conflict, and security around the world.

Specialty trade organizations: Consider reaching out to industry associations like the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce or the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for business experts.

NPR Source of the Week: NPR maintains a directory of diverse sources with a range of expertise. It’s searchable by expertise, name, and location.

She Source: The Women’s Media Center maintains an online database of media-experienced women experts. Search by location, keyword, or area of expertise.

TONL: This is not a directory of expert sources but a directory of diverse stock images, in case you need photos that reflect the diversity of your sources. You could also request photos from those sources or send a photographer, but that’s not always an option depending on your budget and publishing timeline.