Clockwise from top left, Roxanna Scott of USA TODAY, Michael Anastasi of the Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, Chris Thomas of the USA TODAY Network, Greg Lee of the Boston Globe and Tina Sturdevant of The Athletic.

By Taris Young
Sports Capital Journalism Program, IUPUI

The General Session “Diversity Hiring: How To Do It” will include a description of a recruiting process built upon relationships. Michael Anastasi of the Tennessean and USA TODAY Network will be joined by Greg Lee of the Boston Globe, Roxanna Scott of USA TODAY, Chris Thomas of the USA TODAY Network and Tina Sturdevant of The Athletic.

The discussion will take place at 9 a.m. on June 17 in the Hine Hall Auditorium on the IUPUI campus.

“What I figured out a long time ago where I can help the most and I can move the needle is by supporting more people getting into the profession than talk about it,” Anastasi said in a phone interview. “I want to focus on action and let others focus on the root causes. I want to do something about it.”

Anastasi said the industry has done a better job of hiring diverse staff members. “Supporting diverse programs is great and that needs to happen,” he said, “but if at the end of the day people are not making the hiring decision, that is not doing us much good. I think people understand how to better recruit, how to better retain, and to get their organizations to reflect the communities they serve is what ultimately needs to happen.”

Anastasi is also a creator of the APSE Diversity Leadership Program, which has identified, trained and promoted journalists who are already in the profession. The program also focuses on creating more diverse candidates for leadership positions. “You are in, you are a reporter covering the NBA, which is your dream,” Anastasi said. “How do I convince you that leadership is the next step in your career, to be the boss of people, and to mold and guide programs? If I convince you to do that, how do I help you acquire the skills to get that job? So that is what my program focuses on.”

Scott is an Executive Editor and Vice-President for USA TODAY Sports, where she has directed the staff at eight Olympic Games. “I think historically we have not had opportunities as women and people of color in newsrooms overall,” she said. ‘I think it is getting better, but I think it is so much more for us to do in that area.”

Scott does see change in the future for women and minority groups that will create more opportunities. “I see hiring managers making it a priority and going out to recruit at NABJ, NAHJ, and looking to keep young journalists in the newspaper industry,” she said via Zoom. “To find opportunities for young reporters to move up to bigger beats, and to figure out what they want to do in terms of being a columnist, editor, or a leader of a newsroom. Clearly defining a career path for young talented young journalists is something I think we have to do better.”

When ask about why there a few women and people of color being hired in sports media, Sturdevant, the Director of Talent Diversity and Inclusion at The Athletic, said, “Historically there have been fewer pipelines for hiring managers and so there has been a culture within this industry, in the past specifically now that we have social media and the opportunity for people to have more visibility for their work. In general, I think that there has been a pipeline problem and that is reflected in people hiring people they know and hiring people that their folks know.”

Sturdevant also sees change in the future for women and minority groups to get hired in sports journalism. “I think relationship development is important and visibility is incredibly important,” she said. “So how are you getting on hiring managers’ radar and having opportunities for their work to be highlighted?”