Look inside: Internal audit of The Daily Californian

February 18, 2024
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Kyle Garcia Takata | Senior Staff

In fall 2022, former Editor in Chief Katherine Shok, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee chair Michael Temprano and I launched a source audit for The Daily Californian.

While collecting data to better understand the background of sources and content we produce, I reflected on the importance of also taking an introspective look at the demographics of the newspaper itself. The Daily Cal is privileged to have a staff committed to representing the Berkeley community, and having staffers from diverse backgrounds can help immensely in that representation.

This goal proves especially pertinent as journalism and media at large have been and continue to be mostly homogenous when it comes to identity.

A 2022 survey from Pew Research Center confirmed this reality, with 76% of surveyed journalists identifying as white, 8% Hispanic or Latine, 6% Black and 3% Asian. Furthermore, Forbes has noted that a vast majority of media outlets in the United States are owned by white billionaires.

Other issues arise with representation in media when it comes to gender as well. Although the Pew Research Center recorded a fairly even split between men and women in the newsroom, the 2022 survey indicated that sports beats are 83% men, government and politics beats are 60% men and science and tech beats are 58% men. Alternatively, social issues and policy beats are 58% women, education and family beats are 63% women and health beats are 64% women. So although the newsroom plays host to more than one gender, the nuances of its beats tell a different story.

What’s fascinating about the data from this survey comes from the reality that 67% of respondents said their newsroom has enough gender diversity, and 32% said their organization has enough racial and ethnic diversity. Less than half of the respondents identified issues regarding representation in their newsroom as a major priority.

How does this affect the way society designs, disseminates and digests the information overload that permeates the media? And how does a nationwide survey of journalists correspond to the operations of a student-run newsroom based in Berkeley, California?

These are questions that cannot be answered without holding a mirror to the people and minds of the Daily Cal. My job as managing editor of race and equity is to therefore look inside the newspaper with the intention of looking forward to a field of journalism more representative of the world we cover.


The internal audit includes 222 respondents from the Daily Cal, all from a pool of fall 2023 staffers. The identities of the respondents will not be disclosed publicly, and the questions asked of each person are all voluntary in order to ensure consensual and comfortable engagement. For this reason, some questions include an option for those who prefer not to disclose certain information.

The 222 respondents came from 18 different departments at the paper. The breakdown of respondents based on department is as follows: 20.3% news, 13.5% design, 8.6% photo, 8.1% sports, 8.1% arts and entertainment, 7.7% multimedia, 7.2% night, 7.2% social media, 6.8% the Weekender, 5.9% blog, 5% projects, 3.6% opinion, 1.8% upper management or DEI chair, 1.8% marketing, 1.4% development, 0.9% business operations, 0.5% special issues and 0.5% online and tech.

Departments at the Daily Cal


The following represents the different questions asked of respondents when conducting the internal audit. For many of the questions, a “prefer not to disclose” option was made available to respondents. This selection is sometimes represented by “PND” in the graphs below.

Editor at the Daily Cal

Head editor rate

For questions with multiple selection options, percent results indicate the proportion of students selecting each option.

Editors and leadership

Of the staffers who responded, 20.3% — or 45 students — indicated they were in a head editor position, and 79.7% said they were not. The head editor designation included deputy editors, members of upper management, the DEI Committee chair and any other managerial positions of a department.

What is worth looking at is the background of these leadership positions, given the impact and direction that the people who occupy them have on the entirety of the newspaper.

Of the 20.3% of respondents who noted they are in head editor or managerial positions, 31 identified as cisgender women, 12 as cisgender men, one as genderqueer and one as nonbinary or gender nonconforming. This means that more than half of the head editor and manager positions at the Daily Cal are occupied by women — a reality which defies typical representation in newsrooms. Additionally, about 42% of the respondents who identified themselves as head editors or managers also identified as LGBTQ+.

For race and ethnicity, 23 head editors and managers identified as Asian or Asian American, 18 identified as white, 10 identified as Latine, Chicanx or Hispanic and one identified as Black or African American. The number of respondents who are head editors that identified as Black or African American is notably low, and other representation such as Indigenous and Middle Eastern identity is also lacking in these leadership positions.

Within this same pool of head editors, 35 indicated they do not have any disabilities, 7 said they do and 3 preferred not to disclose. This invites a discussion regarding the necessity for staffer workshops and awareness surrounding people with disabilities. Moreover, the discussion should reaffirm that individuals in demanding leadership roles receive any necessary accommodations to succeed.

Age, year, and student backgrounds

Overall, 28.9% of respondents were 19 years old. A majority of other staffers identified as being two or three years younger or older than this age. Additionally, the majority of respondents (31.5%) indicated they were in their second year at UC Berkeley, and 18.9% indicated they were in their fourth year.

What stood out in this audit are the stark contrasts between transfer and non-transfer students and between international and non-international students. There were 11.3% of respondents who indicated they were transfers and 6.8% who were international students. Our paper would therefore benefit from exploring ways the transfer and international student communities on campus could feel more supported and involved in the Daily Cal.

Gender and sexuality

Similar to the percentage of head editors who identified as such, the overall percentage of respondents who identified as cisgender women was more than 50%. The next highest percentage was 27.9% cisgender men — which was less than half of the 64.9% of cisgender women.

This majority-women representation follows trends found in higher education, but in this audit of the paper, the greater difference between men and women is noteworthy. The concept of having head editor positions occupied predominantly by cisgender women counters the reality of journalism at large.

Although the data show 5% of respondents identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming, the gender distribution among respondents was largely confined to the gender binary.

For sexuality, more than half of respondents identified as straight and not part of the LGBTQ+ community. However, for the respondents who did identify as LGBTQ+, 16.2% said they were bisexual, 9.5% said they were gay or lesbian and 8.6% identified as queer. Although most respondents identified as heterosexual, almost half of respondents in head-editor positions identified as LGBTQ+. The representation within head editorship should therefore serve as a goal for the paper’s overall LBGTQ+ representation among staffers.

Race and ethnicity

Respondents were able to select one or more options for race and ethnicity or choose the “prefer not to disclose” option. Based on this data, more than half of the respondents identified as Asian or Asian American — a percentage which is extremely encouraging given the ongoing struggle for more Asian American representation in on-air coverage in newsrooms across the United States.

Another percentage that stands out is the 14.9% of respondents who identified as Latine, Hispanic or Chicanx. This percentage admittedly falls below the 22.9% of new undergraduate UC Berkeley students who identified as this in fall 2023. However, as noted in the discussion of head editor demographics, about 28.5% of head editors identified as Latine, Hispanic or Chicanx. This means that more representation of Latine, Hispanic or Chicanx students exists within leadership roles at the paper, which cannot be said about journalism at large, where representation of this community in head editor roles is severely lacking or sometimes nonexistent.

The primary point of concern in the paper’s racial and ethnic breakdown is seen in the lack of representation of Black and Indigenous communities. Given that the percentage of Black and Indigenous respondents barely approaches 2% of overall responses, key concerns arise regarding how accessible and representative the paper comes across to these communities of color.


Disability in the survey was self-identified and did not require respondents to provide any proof or documentation. Additionally, the respondent did not have to be registered as part of the Disabled Students’ Program at UC Berkeley in order to identify as someone who has a disability.

The previous question of accessibility roots itself in the 82% of respondents who indicated they do not have any known disability. While the paper does provide the opportunity for reduced workloads and accommodations to staffers, 14.4% of the respondents who identified as having a disability may feel unrepresented and therefore potentially less comfortable disclosing a need for accommodations. Furthermore, like some other aspects of identity, a person’s abilities and disabilities can change over time. Students who learn of diagnoses or encounter new disabilities may therefore need access to accommodations and look to support from fellow staff. Having more representation of people from all abilities can therefore foster an environment where staffers feel comfortable and confident in communicating and succeeding at the paper.

Feedback and going forward

An optional question on this survey provided to Daily Cal staff asked respondents to share any feedback or questions regarding the audit itself. Since a mass internal auditing of the newspaper is a recent initiative, I recognize the growth that can come even from how I audit staffers and invite them to a conversation on representation and identity.

Based on the responses to this question, staffers indicated that they would like to see questions about first-generation and foreign-exchange students. Respondents also indicated they would like the opportunity to gauge the socioeconomic status of staffers. Adding to that list, I would also like to have the opportunity to ask staffers questions pertaining to student-parents, commuter students, students working multiple jobs and veteran status. Each of these questions would follow the format of their predecessors by having a “prefer not to disclose” option in order to maintain voluntary participation.

From a logistical standpoint, another area of improvement comes down to staffer engagement with internal auditing. While many staffers did respond to this audit, having more involvement would better capture the people and identities that really make the Daily Cal what it is.

I therefore plan to take the data and experience from conducting this audit and integrate it into discussions with staff at the paper. As I collaborate with the DEI Committee chair and staff representatives to conduct cultural sensitivity and workplace conduct trainings once again this semester, I plan to disseminate this audit to all staff.

Publishing this report doesn’t just work to create transparency for the community readers of the Daily Cal — it also functions to engage the entire culture of the paper in seeing where we can improve and take tangible steps to do so.

Special thanks

Like any newsroom, there is no singular cog in the machine that keeps a paper running (and the staffers at the Daily Cal are truly anything but cogs). While I cannot thank everyone, I do want to give special recognition to the projects department for creating the graphics for this data. Without Anika Sikka, Cameron Fozi and Arfa Momin, visualizing this information would not be the same.

I also want to thank Michael Temprano for helping lead the DEI initiatives at the paper that enabled this survey to happen. His support and spearheading make the hard work worth it.

About this story

This project was developed by the Projects Department at The Daily Californian.

Data for this project come from an internal survey shared to fall 2023 staffers.

Questions, comments or corrections? Email projects@dailycal.org.

Code, data and text are open-source on GitHub.

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