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USC Annenberg Launches Initiative That Will Rate & Reward Media Companies Based on How Diverse They Are

USC Annenberg Launches Initiative That Will Rate & Reward Media Companies Based on How Diverse They Are

I should note that neighboring UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center has also undertaken its own Hollywood diversity study, which has been covered on this blog.

Today, USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has announced that it is also launching a new initiative that it says will help enhance diversity across the entertainment industry.

This comes on the heels of criticism the 2015 Academy Award nominations were on the receiving end of, for their lack of diversity.

According to the press release, the project, titled the Comprehensive Analysis and Report on Diversity (CARD), will rate and reward media companies based on how inclusive they are. The ratings will study the content media companies produce – and also the diversity within their internal ranks. 

CARD will chart how the major entertainment players fare when it comes to hiring, casting and content.

USC Annenberg researchers will catalog the chain of command at major media companies to examine diversity in executive suite decision-making. In addition, several aspects of on-screen diversity across film, TV, and digital content – such as gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT representation – will be assessed and graded.

The Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative (a think tank of research scientists and more than 100 graduate and undergraduate students) at USC Annenberg, led by Professor Stacy L. Smith, will oversee the analyses for CARD. 

“In 2013, there were 17 films among the top 100 grossing movies that featured not one black or African-American speaking character. Across 600 popular films between 2007 and 2013, just two were directed by black women,” said Professor Smith, director of the MDSC Initiative.

“Clearly, not one group or one company is solely responsible for the lack of diversity on-screen or behind the camera. We need a broader look at who is doing well, and who needs to step up their game. The USC Annenberg CARD will do just that,” Smith said.

In addition to scoring companies based on the criteria listed above, USC Annenberg will seek out nominations for individuals who have meaningfully contributed as leaders to diversity in entertainment. These individuals will be honored with an award in early 2016.

“The mission of this new institute and report card is integrated into everything we do,” said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. “This is not a sidebar; this is core to our school’s vision.”

Somewhat similarly, the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies “Hollywood Diversity Report,” led by Dr. Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center, and Dr. Ana-Christina Ramon, assistant director, aims to affect change in Hollywood by via what they described as a comprehensive research analysis of the inclusion of diverse groups in film and television, including starring roles, writing, directing, producing, and talent representation. Also, the report will identify and disseminate best practices for increasing representation of underrepresented groups that will help advance existing entertainment industry efforts to better serve a diversifying American audience. 

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