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Experiencing and Confronting Bias at CPR

Recently on the national program The Takeaway (heard Monday - Friday at 11AM on CPR), former CPR journalist Lee Hill shared his experience from his time here.

Hill worked at CPR from May 2011- Dec 2013. In his story on The Takeaway, we heard from a person of color who, during his time here, felt he had to carry the burden of an entire organization's cultural understanding and outreach. We heard how criticism can lead to a crisis of confidence an all-white team simply did not understand. 

We had been adding diversity to the news team and some other areas of the organization for the past several years. And we had been considering plans for new positions focused on these issues, diversity training staff wide and improved recruiting practices. This felt like positive movement and we thought we were addressing the needs of our staff and our organization. But we were circling the issues without first listening.

Hill’s story on The Takeaway, as well as feedback from our current staff, has led to deep introspection at Colorado Public Radio. These are hard lessons about the harmful effects of white privilege and implicit bias. Hill’s account provided a way into a conversation about race and racism we have been talking around, but not directly addressing.  

As leadership, we acknowledge inadequate progress. We must do better. Our newsroom is developing a role to elevate our focus on race and social justice while baking in this focus for all news staff. We are surveying the sources and voices heard in our stories and will publish the results. These are just first steps that must also include how we recruit and support our talent in every department, how we approach our content and outreach; and how we understand and remove unconscious bias from our organization. 

We welcome your thoughts. Please contact me directly here.

Stewart Vanderwilt
President & CEO, Colorado Public Radio