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The State News fall 2021 diversity report

December 9, 2021
Photo by Sheldon Krause | The State News

At The State News, a priority is not only implementing diversity within our coverage and stories but also within our reporters. This report is used to be transparent with our readers about our newsroom makeup and to be clear about what areas our staffers would like to see improvement in.  

The State News works to implement new efforts to help with accessibility and diversity, like slowly incorporating alternative text options to our Instagram. 

One of the main objectives of The State News is to highlight everyone at Michigan State University and ensure The State News is bringing in coverage from all organizations and cultures on campus and in East Lansing. 

How we made this report

This report was brought by The State News Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coordinator Tessa Jazwinski, Editor-in-Chief Karly Graham, and Managing Editor Jayna Bardahl. Using a Google Survey, The State News’ staff was asked to self-identify based on the questions asked. Additionally, this report shows the identities of the sources we interviewed based on self-identification. 

This report also showcases the tags from the fall 2021 semester from culture, city, campus and sports. Our goals for fall 2021 were similar to previous years: to highlight more minority groups at Michigan State University and amplify their voices, understand who is being represented as voices at The State News and create a more accessible platform on social media for people with disabilities. 


Staff Breakdown

The State News consists of 51 MSU students, which was identical to spring 2021. During fall 2021, 74.5% or 38 students identified themselves as white or caucasian. The remaining students identified as the following:

  • 6 (11.8%) as Black or African American, down 2.2% from spring 2021.

  • 1 (2%) as Indian or Indian American, same as spring 2021.

  • 2 (3.9%) as Hispanic or Latinx, down 4.1% from spring 2021.

  • 1 (2%) as Native American, same as spring 2021.

  • 0 (0%)  as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Island, same as spring 2021.

  • 4 (7.8%) as Asian or Asian American, same as spring 2021. 

  • 1 (2%) as Pakistani, up 2% from spring 2021.

In lieu of a two or more races option, The State News allowed for students to select more than one option under race if they identify that way. For example, a mixed-race student could select that they were caucasian and Black. Some options and comparisons may be affected by this. Additionally, there was an “Other” option so students could be more specific about what they identify as if they chose to do so. 

The information from MSU fall enrollment is provided by the Diversity at MSU 2019-20 Annual Student and Workforce Data Report. In fall 2020, Black students made up 7.9% of the total domestic student population. 


Similar to previous years, The State News has a more female-dominated staff. The State News has 35 (68.6%) cisgender female-identifying staff members compared to 16 (31.4%) identifying as male. In spring 2021, The State News had 36 staff members identify as cisgender female and 14 identify as cisgender males. In fall 2020, The State News had 27 members identify as cisgender females, 15 identify as cisgender male and one student who identified as “transgender or nonbinary.” 



Regarding sexuality, 40 staff members identified as heterosexual, eight identify as bisexual, one identified as asexual, one identified as homosexual and one selected “prefer not to answer.” In spring 2021, 36 members of the staff identified as heterosexual, while 11 identified as bisexual, homosexual or asexual. 

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First generation

The State News is made up of 11 (21.6%) first generation students, down from 14 (28.6%) from last spring. Our staff is composed of 43 (84.3%) in-state students and eight  (15.7%) out-of-state students.


Year in school 

The staff has 18 (35.3%) juniors or third year students, 15 (29.4%) seniors or fourth years, five (9.8%) freshmen or first years, three (5.9%) graduate students and two (3.9%) fifth year or more undergraduate students.


Political affiliation 

This semester The State News added political affiliation to the questionnaire. Twenty-one  (41.2%) identified as strong liberal, 17 (33.33) identified as moderate liberal, six (11.8%) identified as neutral, three (5.9%) identified as leftist, two (3.9%) preferred not to answer, one (2%) identified as apolitical, and one (2%) identified as moderate conservative.

This question also had an “Other” option where people could be more specific about where they stand politically, which is where the “apolitical” and “Leftist” options were written. 


Source engagement

The State News believes in the importance of hearing from multiple, diverse sources. After each interview, reporters are expected to ask each source a few demographic questions to better understand who our sources are. By engaging with our sources in this fashion, we’re able to be more conscientious about the people we are interviewing and make more of an effort to hear from a variety of voices. 

This semester, there were 203 sources accounted for. All questions are optional for sources to answer, so some numbers may not add up to 203. 


Age in sourcing

Just over half of our sources were between the ages of 18-21, with 95 sources falling within that age group. We spoke to people under the age of 18 and people 60 years and older the least. These demographics made up just 4.3% of our sources. 

Race/Ethnicity in sourcing

According to the form submissions, 123 of our sources self-identify as white, or 69.1%. From then on, our most spoken to sources identified as Asian or Asian American (15.2%), Hispanic or Latinx (7.3%), and Black (6.7%). 

Gender identification in sourcing

Exactly 100 of interviewed sources identified as cisgender females. This accounted for 54.1% of the responses to this question. From there, 66 identified as cisgender males, 11 identified as non-binary, and three identified as transgender females. Four sources either preferred not to answer or were unsure how to answer. 

The State News having a majority of cisgender female staffers could be part of the reason more cisgender females are interviewed by reporters. 

Sexual orientation in sourcing

For sexual orientation 133 (76.4%) sources identified as straight or heterosexual, 15 (8.6) identified as bisexual, seven (4%) preferred not to answer, five (2.9%) identified as gay or lesbian, six (3.4%) identified as queer, four (2.3%) identified as pansexual, two (1.1.%) identified as asexual, one (0.6%) was not sure how to answer, and one (0.6%) identified as asexual panromantic. 

Of these sources, 128 (65%) were MSU students while 69 (35%) were not MSU students. Of the 128 MSU students, first, second, third and fourth year students were represented in close proportion, with each group having between 25-28 interviews.  Seventeen (13%) were graduate students. Six (4.6%) were in their fifth year or more of earning their undergraduate degree.


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