December 13, 2012
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR SETS CORE REPORTING TEAM
FOR INITIATIVE ON RACE, ETHNICITY AND CULTURE

NPR HIRES GENE DEMBY AS BLOGGER;
REPORTER SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI
JOINS KAREN GRIGSBY BATES AT NPR WEST

NPR has formed the core reporting team for its initiative to deepen coverage of race, ethnicity and culture. Gene Demby, founder of the blog PostBourgie and former journalist at the New York Times and Huffington Post, will be the team's blogger and correspondent. Shereen Marisol Meraji returns to NPR as a reporter, joining correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates at NPR West in Culver City, CA. Two additional positions of apprentice reporter and apprentice digital journalist will be hired soon.

NPR announced the initiative, supported by a $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, at the UNITY Convention in August 2012. The team, which will ultimately include six journalists, will deliver a steady flow of distinctive coverage on every platform, including a new branded space within NPR.org expected to launch this spring. Demby and Meraji will join Bates in producing compelling stories and presenting new voices and conversations online and on-air.

Demby (@GeeDee215) joins NPR on December 17, and will begin reporting and blogging at NPR.org, and later for a distinctive blog being created for this initiative. He began PostBourgie in 2007 while working at the New York Times; the blog about race, culture, politics and media won the 2009 Black Weblog Award for Best News/Politics Site. His work on PostBourgie led the Huffington Post to recruit him from the Times to report for its Black Voices channel in 2011, where he managed the site through launch and led its political coverage as Senior Politics Editor for much of 2012.

Meraji (@RadioMirage) returns to NPR in January to report on race, ethnicity and culture. She was a producer for seven years at Day to Day, then All Things Considered. As an NPR-Bucksbaum International Reporting Fellow, she reported on the aftermath of war in Beirut, Lebanon. After leaving NPR, Shereen contributed to a PRNDI award-winning series at KPCC and served as one of the inaugural reporters for the Wealth and Poverty Desk at Marketplace.

With this work, NPR will grow on-going efforts to expand its audience with coverage that is welcoming and relevant to more people - reaching those who are more racially, geographically and ideologically diverse. The team's coverage will provide a portal for new listeners and readers, while enriching the content that NPR provides today to an audience of 26 million on radio and nearly 23 million online. The editorial team will also work across NPR to infuse more story ideas and diverse sources that reflect the world we live in - spanning beats and platforms to touch more of NPR. This initiative will serve as a model for future topic-focused channels.

This initiative is part of a multi-year strategic imperative: to ensure that NPR "looks and sounds like America on air and online." Over the past two years, NPR has improved its staff profile, which is one of the most diverse in American media, infused its journalism with more diverse sources, experts and story ideas, and stoked the conversation about these important issues with staff-run workshops.