News Story

Grand Valley State’s New Intersectionality And Systemic Racism Radio Reporter

State university’s public radio station gets $538,000 from the Kellogg Foundation

At a time when the news industry is shedding jobs, the Grand Valley State University public radio station is creating a position it calls “an inclusion reporter.”

A job posting of April 16 stated that “WGVU Public Media, as part of its ongoing commitment to promote diversity, inclusion and equity, is seeking a reporter to engage local and regional audiences in conversations about racial disparities, inclusion, and community. We’re looking for an innovative reporter interested in exploring the systemic issues of race, poverty and class in the communities we serve.”

The posting includes this required qualification: “Must be able to demonstrate a deep understanding of intersectionality and systemic racism both personally and in their body of work.” The posting says the annual salary is $40,000 for the position.

The position is being funded in part by a $538,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek. A webpage from the Kellogg Foundation says it is about  “... helping communities embrace racial healing, uproot the unconscious and conscious beliefs in racial hierarchy, address the historic and contemporary effects of racism and bring about transformational and sustainable change.”

One media expert questioned if the position was truly about news reporting.

“Every reporter should be an ‘inclusion reporter’: Include the facts that matter to your readers,” said John Miller, director of the journalism program at Hillsdale College. “Good journalism demands it. But something tells me that this position is more about politics than news.”

Tim Groseclose is a UCLA political scientist who has studied bias in the media.

“Here's a test of bias in a reporter,” he said. “After reading his or her stories, can you tell his or her political views?”

Groseclose continued, “You could ask the same question about the writer of the job posting. I'd bet my life savings that he or she is not a Republican.”

WGVU stated in a press release, “The first strategy is to produce media that sparks community conversations, including a series of radio reports, social media videos and documentaries that explore matters affecting minorities.”

Steve Chappell, a WGVU grant writer, said in the press release, “Simply put, people of color don’t have enough access to platforms where issues that affect them are decided and the objective of the grant is to change that.”

Grand Valley State University received $70.1 million in state funding for its General Fund in 2017-18.