Military veterans are vastly underrepresented in today’s newsrooms. Only 1 percent of veterans who served in the military after September 11, 2001, now work in journalism, according to the latest data from the United States Census Bureau. By comparison, veterans make up 7 percent of the total U.S. population.
Despite this underrepresentation, major news outlets don’t appear to include veterans as part of their diversity and inclusion efforts. No mainstream news organization includes data on veteran employees in their annual diversity reports, according to Nieman Reports, a website and quarterly print magazine about the journalism industry.
Two former military members are working to improve this disparity. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Russell Midori and Navy veteran Zack Baddorf founded Military Veterans in Journalism (MVIJ) in 2019. The nonprofit organization helps former service members transition into civilian careers in the news industry.
One way that MVIJ is tackling this issue is through a partnership with National Public Radio (NPR). Starting this summer, NPR will offer a paid internship for veterans to gain hands-on experience alongside world-renowned journalists. To qualify, individuals must be a reservist or National Guard member with at least four years of service or be honorably discharged from active duty. No prior reporting experience is required.
In April, MVIJ will host a workshop in New York to familiarize veterans with the journalism industry and connect them with professionals whom they can job-shadow, according to Stars and Stripes, an independent military news outlet.
The organization also offers members a professional mentorship program with seasoned journalists, résumé assistance, and access to exclusive social media networking groups.
Midori and Baddorf say that adding more military voices to the news media will improve the industry. “Veterans bring perspective, nuanced understanding, and on-the-ground experience about the military and veterans affairs that ultimately benefits newsrooms and news consumers,” the MVIJ website states.
This article was published in the April 2020 issue.