Photo by: Olivia Mowry

USC Annenberg and Paramount establish first-of-its-kind scholarship to advance Latinx diversity in newsrooms

It’s clear that America’s newsrooms do not reflect the populations they serve. While the nation’s Latinx population is expected to rise to 119 million or 29% of the total U.S. population by 2060, they currently comprise a mere 7.8% of the TV news workforce and 6.5% of TV news directors at non-Spanish language stations.

Seeking to increase the number of Latinx journalists in the news industry, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and Paramount are investing in the graduate education of Latinx students.

The Paramount Latinx Diversity in Journalism Scholarship, supported by a $1-million gift, will cover yearly tuition costs for a Latinx student to enroll in one of USC Annenberg’s journalism master’s programs

Shawna Thomas, executive producer of CBS Mornings and a USC Annenberg alumna, announced the first-of-its-kind scholarship at the school’s commencement ceremony on May 13.

“Together with the HBCU Diversity in Journalism Scholarship —  Paramount is now providing $2 million of endowed support to USC Annenberg,” Thomas said. “It’s a real commitment to advancing newsroom diversity.” 

The new Paramount Latinx scholars will further bolster the approximately 20% percent of USC Annenberg’s graduate journalism students who identify as Latinx or Hispanic. These students, supported by USC Annenberg faculty, have created new initiatives such as the student-run media brand called Dímelo, which aims to reach young Latinx and Hispanic adults with stories and content experiences in Spanish and English.  

“We know the education, training and connections students build in our programs equip them for successful journalism careers,” USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay said. “This scholarship offers an invaluable opportunity for Latinx journalists to bring those skills to America’s newsrooms, which need their talent and expertise to reach their audiences now more than ever.”

Bay added that increasing Latinx representation in the news media in meaningful ways requires not only education and professional development, but a network of industry partners, of which Paramount CBS is a vital partner. 

"Paramount and CBS are proud to partner with the Annenberg School in supporting the advancement of Latinx diversity in newsrooms by establishing this first-of-its-kind scholarship at USC," said George Cheeks, President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. “This scholarship will not only benefit the talented recipients who enroll in this world-class program but also the news organizations that will utilize their distinct voices and talents for years to come.”

With 31% of schools designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions by the U.S. government found in California, USC Annenberg’s location also ideally positions the school to offer the scholarship and to recruit qualified Latinx students. In addition, USC Annenberg hosts a student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), which convenes workshops and offers opportunities for students to network and learn from professional journalists in the industry, as well as attend the national NAHJ convention.

The scholarship, established by the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and Paramount, is open to any students who are interested in advancing Latinx diversity in newsrooms.