Freelancers, this is the time to diversify our sources

Carolyn Crist

About Carolyn Crist

Carolyn Crist (@cristcarolyn) helps AHCJ’s freelance members find the resources, tips and contacts they need to create and run a successful business. A freelance journalist and author, Crist covers health, medicine and science stories for national news outlets such as Reuters, Runner’s World and Parade. She also writes for trade and custom publications. Contact her at carolyn@healthjournalism.org.

Three women sitting together and discussing work

Photo: Fadi Dahabreh on Scopio

After a wave of online conversations unveiled issues with inclusion at some of the nation’s top publications and media companies, freelancers can step up now by thinking more critically about the sources they interview for their stories. Several groups have created databases in recent years to encourage reporters to extend their limited perspectives and typical networks, and now seems like a good time for a reminder and a nudge.

“Inclusive reporting” beefs up your stories with a variety of viewpoints that come from a different race, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle or culture than your own. Plus, a diversity of sources adds credibility, accuracy and context to your work. As health reporters, we’ve written about a pandemic that disproportionately affects people of color, and we know the power that comes from investigating different datasets, different health outcomes and different communities. Let’s extend that type of insight to our other stories, too.

Bookmark these resources so you can find them as you begin your next story:

Database of Diverse Databases: The Editors of Color’s database is a fantastic collection of directories and spreadsheets across a dozen beats, including health, science, technology and political science. You’ll find specific databases here — such as Women Virologists (with more than 600 names) and the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (organized by region/state) — so it’s a great place to start.

Diverse Sources: This searchable database features experts in health, science and the environment. The project’s goal is specifically to facilitate more diverse voices in journalism and was created by health and science reporters who recognized the need in their own work. The advisory board includes health and science journalists, too.

500 Women Scientists: This compilation of experts has become well-known in recent years. The frontpage has an easy-to-use keyword tool, and you can also search by discipline and location by clicking on a map.

SheSource: The Women’s Media Center has a great database of media-experienced women who are ready to speak. You can search by keyword, area of expertise, location and language. The center updates its “featured” section regularly, with June’s focus on experts who can discuss LGBTQ+ issues for Pride month.

Find POC Experts: This searchable spreadsheet has more than 200 sources in a variety of areas. The best part about this resource is the level of detail — each person lists their title, affiliation, research interests, a short bio, a website and experience with TV, radio and editorials. You can find a specific match here.

Of course, you can customize your own search, too. Plenty of journalists make Twitter lists of sources and connect with experts through social media. Contact associations and professional groups for recommendations. Check out NPR’s Source of the Week for inspiration.  Ask your fellow freelancers for recommendations. Keep track of your own list and share with us, too.

Do you have additional recommendations? Leave the links in the comments below!

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