North by Northwestern (NBN) continues to uphold its commitment to transparency and accountability with the publication of its 8th diversity report cataloging the demographics of our staff and contributors. This report allows us to analyze the outcomes of our staff diversity and source tracking surveys, and use our findings to reflect on the inclusivity of our newsroom and how we can make it a more welcoming space for everyone.

The report is compiled using anonymous survey responses distributed to our editors, designers, photographers and contributors during the quarter. We also compare the current data with that of the previous quarter to discern any shifts in our demographics.

The Fall 2023 diversity survey received 79 responses, a nearly 30% increase in responses from Spring 2023, which received 60 responses. The responses collected this quarter may be attributed to the expansion of our Fall staff on both the web and print teams on NBN. Additionally, the contribution of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) editors played a crucial role in encouraging staffers to actively participate in the survey, supporting the high response rate. On the other hand, our optional source tracking survey received only 28 responses.

As in past diversity reports, we do not distinguish between our print and web staff. This quarter, 53.2% of our total staff is exclusively on web, 35.4% is exclusively on print and 11.4% of our staff holds positions on multiple parts of the publication among the website, print magazine and corporate teams.

Race & ethnicity

The racial and ethnic categories remain about the same compared to last year’s survey. The percentage of white staffers increased to 46.8% from 41.7% last quarter. Although the NBN survey does not have a mixed category selection, staffers are allowed to choose more than one selection.

The second largest category is East Asian with 39.2% of staffers who filled out the survey identifying as East Asian. This is a large increase from last quarter’s survey which has 23.3% of staffers identifying as East Asian.

The percentage of staffers who identify as Latino/a/x or Hispanic decreased slightly from 15% last Spring Quarter to 13.9% this quarter. The percentage of Black/African American staffers also decreased from 10% last spring to 6.3% this quarter.

Southeast Asian and South Asian staffer percentages increased slightly from 10% last spring to 13.9%. Middle Eastern and North African staffers increased slightly to 3.8%. Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander staffers made up about 1.3%, a slight decrease from last year. Similarly, Central Asian staffers made up 1.3% of NBN’s staff, an increase from last year.

The percentage of Indigenous and Native American staffers remained at zero.


The methods used to break down gender identity within NBN’s newsroom for Fall Quarter remains the same. The survey provides staffers with the options to select multiple gender identities.

The survey shows that cisgender women predominantly make up NBN’s newsroom at 82.3%. The percentage of cisgender women increased about 6% from Spring Quarter 2023. The percentage of cisgender men in NBN decreased from 18.3% during the Spring Quarter to 12.7%. Staffers who identified as transgender men or transgender women remained at zero.

The survey also has options outside of the gender binary. The percentage of NBN’s staffers who identify outside of the gender binary decreased from 10% in Spring 2023 to 6.4%. This includes staffers who are agender, genderfluid, gender-nonconforming, non-binary and questioning. NBN recognizes that gender identification is a process in which our staffers may be in different stages.


NBN maintained the same breakdown of sexuality among staffers as previous quarters. We understand that sexuality is fluid, so our survey offers staffers the option to select multiple sexuality identities.

The most common sexuality among NBN staffers continues to be heterosexuality. The percentage of heterosexual staffers remained almost the same from 59.3% in Spring 2023 to 59.5% in Fall 2023. Bisexuality remains as the second most common sexuality in our newsroom with a slight decrease from 25.4% in Spring 2023 to 24.1% in Fall 2023. Our newsroom saw a larger increase of staffers who identify as gay or asexual. Staffers who identify as either gay or asexual made up 6.8% of our staff in Spring 2023 (with 3.4% in each category). The percentage of gay-identifying staffers rose to 5.1% in Fall 2023, while the percentage of asexual-identifying staffers rose to 6.3%. Our newsroom also experienced a slight increase in the percentage of staffers who identify as queer, from 8.5% in Spring 2023 to 8.9% in Fall 2023. Additionally, staffers who identify as pansexual made up 2.5% of our newsroom in Fall 2023, remaining relatively the same from the 2.2% in Spring 2023. Meanwhile, the percentage of staffers who identify as lesbian decreased from 3.4% in Spring 2023 to 2.5% in Fall 2023.

As with previous quarters, our survey continues to offer staffers the option to select questioning when asked for their sexuality. This option acknowledges that all staffers are at different stages of self-identification regarding their sexuality. The percentage of staffers who selected questioning decreased from 3.4% in Spring 2023 to 2.5% in Fall 2023.


In addition, our staffers speak 16 different languages, not including English, based on the options we listed. This was an increase from the 10 different languages selected last quarter. In total, about 62% of our staffers speak another language. Among all the languages, Mandarin is the most common, with 49% of staffers who speak another language speaking the language. Spanish is the second most common language, with 44.9% of staffers who speak another language speaking the language. French is the third most common spoken language among staffers who speak another language with about 12.2% of staffers speaking the language. Cantonese, Filipino, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish, Greek, Mongolian and Persian are the other languages our Fall staff members speak.

International students

Our newsroom saw a rise in the percentage of international students, from 6.7% in Spring 2023 to 7.6% Fall 2023. Despite this increase, international students remain underrepresented in our newsroom compared to the 10.5% that make up the NU undergraduate student population, according to the University’s 2022-2023 data set.

Socioeconomic status

The percentage of first generation students within NBN increased from 8.3% Spring quarter 2023 to 12.7% Fall quarter. The percentage of staffers who identify as low-income also increased. During Fall 2023, 12.7% of staffers identified themselves as low-income, a slight increase from 10% Spring 2023. The survey also gathers insight into the work balance of NBN, finding that 62.8% of staffers are employed outside of the magazine. This compares to 58.5% of staffers being employed outside of the magazine during Spring 2023.

Just like previous quarterly surveys, the survey allows students to share if they receive financial aid from the University. The percentage of staffers who received financial aid from the University slightly increased from 48.3% during Spring 2023 to 49.4% during Fall 2023. According to the University’s data, 60% of all undergraduate students receive financial aid.


During the Fall Quarter, 34.2% of staffers identified as Agnostic, making it the largest belief within the NBN staff. The second largest belief within the NBN staff is Christianity, with about 29.1% of the staff identifying as Christian. This is a decrease from Spring 2023, as Christianity was the largest belief within the staff at 32.5%. The third largest religion within NBN staff is Judaism, with about 16.5% of staffers identifying as Jewish. Atheism is also another option for staffers to select, with 8.9% of staffers identifying as Atheist. Eight staffers (about 10.1%) of staffers identify as spiritual but not religious. Two staffers (2.5%) identified as Buddhist while 1 staffer (about 1.3%) identified as Muslim. Four staffers (5.1%) identified with none of the religions and 0 staffers identified as not practicing.


The percentage of staffers who identify as having a disability fell significantly from 20% in Spring 2023 to 7.9% in Fall 2023. This statistic falls below the 12.3% of all undergraduate students registered with AccessibleNU, according to the University’s most recent diversity, equity and inclusion report from 2020-2021.

NBN recognizes that the University’s statistics may not accurately reflect the number of students with disabilities as not all students with disabilities may be registered with AccessibleNU. However, the University’s report serves as our best metric available to compare our newsroom to the greater undergraduate student body at NU. Some staffers elaborated on their disabilities in our survey, but we are choosing to not publish their responses to respect their privacy.

Source tracking

In the Fall 2023 Quarter, we maintained our practice of having writers send an anonymous post-interview demographic survey to all sources. We received 28 responses to the survey, an almost identical figure to last quarter’s 27.

The largest racial and ethnic demographic among our sources was those who identify as white only, with 23.14% of respondents identifying as white. Sources who identify as East Asian or East Asian and another identity made up our second largest demographic at 17.86%. Sources who identify as South Asian or South Asian and another identity made up the third largest demographic among our respondents at 14.29%. Following that, 10.71% of our respondents identify as Black/African American or Black/African American and another identity, and 7.14% identify as Southeast Asian. Of all our respondents, 17.86% identify as Latine/Latinx/Hispanic.

The majority of respondents – 18 of them – speak at least another language other than English. These languages include Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, German, French, Hindi, Urdu, Czech, Greek, Italian, Swedish, Telugu and ASL.

The vast majority of respondents identify as cisgender women, as is consistent with our previous quarters. Cisgender women made up 57.1% of our sources from Fall 2023, a 5.3% increase from 51.8% in Spring 2023. Meanwhile, cisgender men made up 32.1% of our sources from Fall 2023, a 17.3% increase from 14.8% in Spring 2023. Sources who identify outside the gender binary made up 14.4% of our respondents, identifying as gender-nonconforming, non-binary or other.

The largest religious demographic of our respondents was those who identify as Christian, with 32.1% of sources identifying as Christian. Respondents who identify as agnostic made up our second largest demographic at 21.4%. Following that, those who identify as atheist made up 17.9% of respondents while those who identify with no religion made up 14.3%. Several respondents also identify Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, not practicing, spiritual but not religious or other.

The percentage of respondents who indicated having a disability increased from 11% in Spring 2023 to 17.9% in Fall 2023. However, we are not publishing the disabilities out of respect for the privacy of our respondents.

We also offer respondents the option to indicate if they are part of a community that is underrepresented in the media and not listed in our survey. As is consistent with Spring 2023, we received no responses for this question.

NBN recognizes that the low number of responses to our post-interview survey may negatively impact the accuracy of the resulting statistics from our source tracking efforts. We hope to increase the response rate and prioritize inclusive representation of the communities our coverage impacts. We will continue to have our staffers encourage sources to fill out the post-interview survey in future quarters.


In assessing our DEI data for this quarter, a notable takeaway is the relative consistency with the previous quarter, indicating stability in our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. It’s also essential to acknowledge the positive aspect of staff expansion, which points to the potential for increased diversity and representation within our growing team. This expansion underscores the need for ongoing commitment to fostering an inclusive environment, recognizing that growth in staff size provides an opportunity to further enhance diversity and equity within our organization.

Our Fall DEI editors, Sammi Li and Astry Rodriguez, hosted our quarterly DEI workshop at the beginning of the quarter, and led our web and print staff through conversations on sensitive reporting practices, methods for expanding sourcing and more mindful DEI approaches in photography and design.

NBN is a registered barrier-free organization and we also try to actively make our publication accessible to interested students. We continued to host a series of workshops at the beginning of the quarter to give those curious about aspects of NBN or journalism an opportunity to learn more and show up to our section meetings.

During the Fall, we also held an affinity bonfire in collaboration with our campus's student chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Student Journalists. This event proved highly successful in both quarters, fostering meaningful connections and engagement across student journalists of different backgrounds on campus.

As in previous reports, our biggest weakness this quarter continues to be collecting source tracking results. In Fall 2023, we received 28 responses, almost mirroring the 27 responses received during Spring 2023. The limited number of respondents poses a challenge in allowing us to draw meaningful insights from our coverage. In the future, we plan to improve our process by giving both website and magazine editors more reminders to have writers distribute the survey to all of their sources. Our editors continue to remind writers to communicate to their sources that the survey is completely anonymous, requiring answers only to questions they feel comfortable addressing, and assuring them that the process should take no longer than 30 seconds to complete.

In the upcoming quarters, we will more intensely promote the diversity survey among all our staff members, writers and contributors. Our goal is to ensure broader participation and inclusivity and, simultaneously, strive to make our reports available earlier in the quarter to allow for more reflection.