It’s that time of year: In almost every business conversation I’ve had over the last month, I hear about the strategic planning, the sales meetings, the budget meetings that we’re all involved in. In many ways, they’re exhausting, but they’re also exciting. At least for me. I like stepping out of the daily grind of the news cycle to think about the big picture: what we can do better to serve our audience, how we can lead the industry toward solutions to challenges, and how we can build a healthier business. For us here at SNEWS, as we synch up with our new ownership at Pocket Outdoor Media, it’s been fun to explore the possibilities.
One thing we’ve been talking about a lot internally at Pocket is our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Immediately after Pocket acquired SNEWS, The Voice, and all our sister, consumer-facing brands like BACKPACKER, SKI, Climbing, National Parks Trips, and Warren Miller, our CEO, Robin Thurston, signed the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge and committed to bringing the outdoor industry together for a more inclusive future.
This will be journey, to be sure, but our team is passionate, and we’ve already started the work. We’ve formed an internal DEI committee of 25 employees across all brands and departments. and organized into sub-committees that will focus on goals and mission, recruiting and talent acquisition, training and development, discussion groups and guest speakers, and promoting inclusivity and belonging both internally and externally. Weekly meetings are open to any and all of our 200+ employees. I’m excited and proud to be part of a company that backs up pledges with action.
And here’s another thing I’m excited about: About five months ago, a few days after the murder of George Floyd, I started meeting weekly with several of my counterparts at other outdoor publications at the encouragement of Teresa Baker, founder of The Pledge. We began to talk about how the outdoor media industry should be more welcoming and proactive at engaging and uplifting the voices of content creators who are Black, Indigenous People of Color, LGBTQ+, and who identify with other marginalized groups.
Adam Howard and Trina Ortega, both from Height of Land Publications, and freelance editor Doug Schnitzspahn, and I agreed that we all wanted to diversify our contributor bases. But we admitted that we struggled to find non-white contributors, and that it’s always easier to keep going back to the people you know. The bottom line, I guess, is that we want to know more people. We know we’re not alone in the world of publishing and we know that there are a lot of contributors out there who we have marginalized. We want to change that.
We came up with a name for our little group: Outdoor Media 4 Inclusion (OM41) and decided to create an opt-in database for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and marginalized content creators. This OM4I database will be open to any publishers or editors who share our diversity goals and agree to some tenets of respect. We launched the database today in this press release. And in the coming weeks, we’ll create a simple website with more information.
To my friends in the media, we hope you will join us in these efforts, and we look forward to building an outdoor industry that is more diverse, more equitable, more inclusive. And to everyone and anyone reading this, we hope you’ll share and promote the OM4I database to support this effort—something we can all work on together. In the end, it will make us a stronger, better industry.