By Christine Paige Diers, Public Media Journalists Association
The Public Media Journalists Association (PMJA) spent two days in October training more than 50 staff members at St. Louis Public Radio using the Power Shift Project’s Workplace Integrity curriculum.
“I was skeptical because I’ve attended too many of these types of seminars that were a waste of time, but they won me over with an interactive and highly practical program, said Fred Ehrlich, St. Louis Public Radio politics editor.
The Workplace Integrity training aims to “create an environment free from harassment, discrimination and incivility and filled with opportunity, especially for those who have traditionally been denied it.” It was developed by world-class leadership trainer Jill Geisler of Loyola University Chicago, who is the Freedom Forum fellow in Women’s Leadership.
Through critical thinking, creative role playing and group exercises, the training teaches media organizations ways to proactively prevent sexual harassment and misconduct and the behaviors that can lead to them, such as incivility and bullying.
The training was funded by the Freedom Forum Institute in partnership with PMJA as part of a pilot project to work with public media stations to improve their cultures.
PMJA chose member stations St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis, Mo., and KUNR in Reno, Nev., as pilot stations to receive Workplace Integrity training. Applications were accepted from stations interested in having the training presented free of charge. With Freedom Forum Institute support, PMJA waived the workshop fee (customarily up to $6,000, plus travel) for the two stations. They were chosen based on a number of factors, including the desire to improve workplace culture and commitment to continuous learning for staff.
“We want to offer this important training to public radio stations across the country,” said PMJA Executive Director Terry Gildea. “As the organization that serves journalists throughout the system, it is our intent to make sure that public media stations are the kinds of workplaces where people feel safe, comfortable and enjoy going to work.”
The training was conducted at St. Louis Public Radio on Oct. 24 and 25. The pilot training at KUNR in Reno is scheduled for early December.
“We are honored to work with PMJA and public media stations striving to create better cultures and to serve their audiences better as truly inclusive news organizations,” said Cathy Trost, executive director of the Freedom Forum Institute. “Working together, we can help make a difference in how all of us stand up for creating a culture of respect and dignity in our workplaces while elevating equity and fair treatment for all.”
Gildea and PMJA Business Manager Christine Paige Diers are qualified as Workplace Integrity trainers, able to teach the one-day workshops for stations that contract for the service. They completed the Freedom Forum Institute’s “Train the Trainers” course at the Newseum in November 2018.
“We were thrilled to hear that both stations were interested in having us train their entire staff, not just the journalists,” said Paige Diers. “In St. Louis, we had top leaders, interns and everyone in between participate. The whole group did great work.”
Most of the staff of St. Louis Public Radio was trained over the course of two days. The group was engaged and involved in the interactive training.
“Having participated in at least a dozen diversity training sessions in my non-profit career, the Power Shift training offered a new and useful framework,” said Jennifer Brake, St. Louis Public Radio development officer. “It provided a good balance of learning, reflection and interaction, prompted me to consider things from perspectives I had not before and allowed us space to address important issues in the larger context of societal expectations while still brainstorming specific, tangible changes we could immediately make in our workspace. And it fostered more openness and empathy among colleagues — bringing us all a bit closer together.”
Gildea and Paige Diers plan to follow up with evaluations of the training and post-training surveys.
Since the Workplace Integrity curriculum was launched in June 2017, more than 150 media organizations have participated in “Train the Trainers” workshops, which prepare individuals in the news industry and journalism education groups to deliver the curriculum in their own organizations.
The Workplace Integrity curriculum is available to other public media stations. Gildea and Paige Diers are available to contract with stations to offer this training. PMJA is also actively seeking funding with the hope of providing the Workplace Integrity training at a lower cost to stations. Interested stations should contact Terry Gildea at [email protected] or Christine Paige Diers at [email protected].