The year we improve representation in international coverage

“When we hire reporters who speak local languages and deeply understand the nuanced perspectives of the communities they cover, sources recognize themselves in stories.”

Journalists who are representative of the communities they cover can access the highest-quality sources, discern compelling issues for local audiences, and rebuild trust with disaffected readers. At Global Press, we see the benefits that arise when communities can relate to stories and the reporters who write them. Several studies demonstrate a resemblance between those who work in a newsroom and those quoted in stories. That means that a lack of diversity in newsrooms contributes to the lack of holistic and equitable storytelling about the world. In 2022, outlets that focus on improving representation will build enduring credibility with readers — who in turn are more likely to use coverage they can relate to and take action in their communities.

But improving representation isn’t flipping a switch.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve identified, trained, and hired over 200 women journalists who hail from the communities they cover — across forty news bureaus around the world. It takes time and resources to remove barriers for talented applicants who may not live in an urban center or have a conventional journalism pedigree (one of our star reporters in Mongolia, Odonchimeg Batsukh, is an epidemiologist from Arkhangai Province who produced unrivaled coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic). It also takes sustained investment in safety, security, and wellness to responsibly care for a global corps of locally representative reporters.

Still, the rewards of representation far outweigh the required investments. For example, another Global Press reporter in Mongolia, Khorloo Khukhnokhoi, recently published an investigation into virginity testing in high schools — sparking real change after years of inaction. Before her story, even forceful judgments from respected institutions had left authorities unmoved. For several years, the United Nations would routinely condemn the practice as an “act of violence that degrades teenage girls, causes them psychological trauma and violates their sexual rights,” to little effect.

But Khorloo’s story struck a chord with her community. Her reporting prompted grassroots calls for reform and led, ultimately, to the Mongolian Ministries of Education and Health finally enacting a new regulation disciplining institutions that perform the tests. Khorloo’s ties to her community were essential to producing this powerful story. She tracked down a lead at a school in Erdenet, her hometown, and gained access to sources who trusted her enough to tell her their stories. Her reporting, which was published not just in English for our global audience but in Mongolian to reach the local audience, spurred action precisely because Khorloo is a credible messenger with a finger on the pulse of what matters to her community.

Halfway around the world in the small Mexican town of San Francisco, just north of Puerto Vallarta, another Global Press reporter, Maya Piedra, also published an impactful story in 2021 that leveraged her local familiarity. As tourists and commercial businesses have descended on the tiny coastal town of San Francisco, local fishermen have struggled to compete with commercial outfits. Maya’s piece exposed the damage to marine ecosystems from overfishing and illegal commercial nets that have decimated fish populations. Her story, based on interviews with local fishermen previously hesitant to speak out, has prompted local businesses to band together and market fish caught using sustainable methods, such as traditional handline fishing, under a seal of certification.

Readers have surpassed the age-old argument that the closer one is to a story, the less objectivity they must hold — the industry needs to surpass this as well. When we hire reporters who speak local languages and deeply understand the nuanced perspectives of the communities they cover, sources recognize themselves in stories. And when they recognize themselves in stories, they begin to trust, which is the foundation for concrete community action. This powerful approach is what is so often needed to rebuild trust between media outlets and the communities they cover. The new year brings an exciting opportunity for our industry to invest in increasing representation, helping communities see themselves in media coverage, and making journalism relevant, engaging, and impactful.

Laxmi Parthasarathy is chief operating officer of Global Press Journal.

Journalists who are representative of the communities they cover can access the highest-quality sources, discern compelling issues for local audiences, and rebuild trust with disaffected readers. At Global Press, we see the benefits that arise when communities can relate to stories and the reporters who write them. Several studies demonstrate a resemblance between those who work in a newsroom and those quoted in stories. That means that a lack of diversity in newsrooms contributes to the lack of holistic and equitable storytelling about the world. In 2022, outlets that focus on improving representation will build enduring credibility with readers — who in turn are more likely to use coverage they can relate to and take action in their communities.

But improving representation isn’t flipping a switch.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve identified, trained, and hired over 200 women journalists who hail from the communities they cover — across forty news bureaus around the world. It takes time and resources to remove barriers for talented applicants who may not live in an urban center or have a conventional journalism pedigree (one of our star reporters in Mongolia, Odonchimeg Batsukh, is an epidemiologist from Arkhangai Province who produced unrivaled coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic). It also takes sustained investment in safety, security, and wellness to responsibly care for a global corps of locally representative reporters.

Still, the rewards of representation far outweigh the required investments. For example, another Global Press reporter in Mongolia, Khorloo Khukhnokhoi, recently published an investigation into virginity testing in high schools — sparking real change after years of inaction. Before her story, even forceful judgments from respected institutions had left authorities unmoved. For several years, the United Nations would routinely condemn the practice as an “act of violence that degrades teenage girls, causes them psychological trauma and violates their sexual rights,” to little effect.

But Khorloo’s story struck a chord with her community. Her reporting prompted grassroots calls for reform and led, ultimately, to the Mongolian Ministries of Education and Health finally enacting a new regulation disciplining institutions that perform the tests. Khorloo’s ties to her community were essential to producing this powerful story. She tracked down a lead at a school in Erdenet, her hometown, and gained access to sources who trusted her enough to tell her their stories. Her reporting, which was published not just in English for our global audience but in Mongolian to reach the local audience, spurred action precisely because Khorloo is a credible messenger with a finger on the pulse of what matters to her community.

Halfway around the world in the small Mexican town of San Francisco, just north of Puerto Vallarta, another Global Press reporter, Maya Piedra, also published an impactful story in 2021 that leveraged her local familiarity. As tourists and commercial businesses have descended on the tiny coastal town of San Francisco, local fishermen have struggled to compete with commercial outfits. Maya’s piece exposed the damage to marine ecosystems from overfishing and illegal commercial nets that have decimated fish populations. Her story, based on interviews with local fishermen previously hesitant to speak out, has prompted local businesses to band together and market fish caught using sustainable methods, such as traditional handline fishing, under a seal of certification.

Readers have surpassed the age-old argument that the closer one is to a story, the less objectivity they must hold — the industry needs to surpass this as well. When we hire reporters who speak local languages and deeply understand the nuanced perspectives of the communities they cover, sources recognize themselves in stories. And when they recognize themselves in stories, they begin to trust, which is the foundation for concrete community action. This powerful approach is what is so often needed to rebuild trust between media outlets and the communities they cover. The new year brings an exciting opportunity for our industry to invest in increasing representation, helping communities see themselves in media coverage, and making journalism relevant, engaging, and impactful.

Laxmi Parthasarathy is chief operating officer of Global Press Journal.

Tom Trewinnard

Daniel Eilemberg

Kristen Muller

Joshua P. Darr

Michael W. Wagner

Tamar Charney

Jessica Clark

Larry Ryckman

Jennifer Brandel

Christoph Mergerson

Jesse Holcomb

Joe Amditis

Whitney Phillips

Kendra Pierre-Louis

Stefanie Murray

Julia Angwin

Cindy Royal

Joni Deutsch

Doris Truong

Stephen Fowler

Kathleen Searles & Rebekah Trumble

Matthew Pressman

Mary Walter-Brown

Janelle Salanga

Natalia Viana

Christina Shih

Chicas Poderosas

Shalabh Upadhyay

Sarah Marshall

Izabella Kaminska

Nikki Usher

Mario García

Victor Pickard

Millie Tran

Catalina Albeanu

Brian Moritz

Anita Varma

Richard Tofel

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Alice Antheaume

Anthony Nadler

John Davidow

Gonzalo del Peon

Melody Kramer

j. Siguru Wahutu

Kerri Hoffman

Juleyka Lantigua

Francesco Zaffarano

Shannon McGregor & Carolyn Schmitt

Errin Haines

Simon Galperin

Cristina Tardáguila

Robert Hernandez

Tony Baranowski

Joy Mayer

Laxmi Parthasarathy

Moreno Cruz Osório

David Cohn

Wilson Liévano

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Zizi Papacharissi

Kristen Jeffers

Parker Molloy

Cherian George

An Xiao Mina

Anika Anand

David Skok

Paul Cheung

Julia Munslow

Matt DeRienzo

Joanne McNeil

Burt Herman

Jesenia De Moya Correa

Ståle Grut

Matt Karolian

Simon Allison

Sarah Stonbely

Candace Amos

Jennifer Coogan

Ariel Zirulnick

James Green

Gabe Schneider

Mandy Jenkins

Don Day

Andrew Freedman

Sam Guzik

S. Mitra Kalita

Megan McCarthy

Raney Aronson-Rath

Gordon Crovitz

Eric Nuzum

Jim Friedlich

Jody Brannon

Rachel Glickhouse

Meena Thiruvengadam

Amara Aguilar

Mike Rispoli

Chase Davis

Jonas Kaiser

A.J. Bauer