Keith Woods speaks at a panel discussion announcing more diverse coverage at NPR.

Keith Woods speaks at a panel discussion announcing more diverse coverage at NPR.

By Althea Chang

NPR listeners can expect to find better coverage of race, ethnicity and culture within the next few years, thanks to a new grant announced by the news organization and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting at the UNITY Journalists Convention Thursday.

Keith Woods speaks at a panel discussion announcing more diverse coverage at NPR. Photo: Althea Chang

NPR received a $1.5 million grant from CPB to start up a desk of reporters, editors and bloggers that will help make stories on Morning Edition and other programs better reflect the communities that NPR serves, executives said.

“This is part about mirroring America,” said Gary Knell, NPR’s president and CEO at an announcement during the UNITY convention. “It’s about staff diversity. It’s about more diverse sources. It’s about stoking a conversation and understanding the audience and growing the audience in public radio.”

The grant announcement comes as NPR and other broadcast organizations work to keep up with the demands of existing listeners and increase the number of people listening, regardless of the medium they use.

“We approach diversity at NPR across a wide spectrum that includes race and ethnicity. It also includes gender, sexual orientation, class, faith, generations, geography, ideology and a number of other things that divide and unite us,” said Keith Woods, who’s in charge of promoting diversity in news and operations.

NPR says it’s also focused on increasing the number of younger listeners it has, citing studies that have found that the average public radio listener is 49. When you put public radio programming on a mobile platform however, that audience’s average age drops to 34, NPR says.

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