Outdoor Media for Inclusion

A working group cofounded by Elevation Outdoors’ editor in chief takes action to include more voices in outdoor journalism.

October 12, 2020 – A group of publishers and editors who oversee consumer and B2B outdoor media titles have formed the working group Outdoor Media 4 Inclusion (OM4I) to provide more opportunities for journalists and contributors who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, and members of other marginalized communities. 

Teresa Baker, founder of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, encouraged the creation of OM4I, which initially formed in May 2020. It aims to advance representation for people of color and others previously  marginalized in the outdoor industry. On May 25, Adam Howard, publisher/owner of Height of Land Publications—which includes AlpinistBackcountryCross Country Skier and Mountain Flyer—opened an email from Baker that encouraged publishers to take action.

“Teresa wanted to hear and see more voices in outdoor media,” says Howard, whose company was an early signatory of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge in 2018. “Just days after Teresa reached out to us, George Floyd was murdered, and her call to action continues to resonate with urgency.” 

“The outdoor industry knows it needs to diversify in terms of the stories we tell and the people we reach, but as outdoor publishers, we also know that we need to engage diverse content creators to tell those stories as well as report on the wide range of topics important to our communities today,” says Kristin Hostetter, editorial director of SNEWS and The Voice at Pocket Outdoor Media. “With a few exceptions, we have failed to do that. We need to be more proactive and welcoming. By creating this working group and database, we hope, over time, to change the largely homogenous nature of outdoor consumer and B2B media.”

To that end, OM4I is creating an opt-in database of writers, reporters, photographers, videographers, designers, models, athletes, and artists from marginalized groups who are seeking work with outdoor media outlets. The group, which plans to launch a website in the coming weeks, aims to share this database with outdoor publishers who want to elevate diverse voices and build professional relationships. 

In effort to create accountability and safety for the people who are opting in, publishers and editors who want access to the database will be asked to join OM4I by signing and publicly posting a DEI commitment statement, acknowledging that they understand concepts such as tokenism and tone policing, agreeing to pay fair rates, and other criteria.

Content creators: Join the database here

“As a Black woman who all too often wishes for her voice, her face, to be part of the outdoor stories told by mainstream media, I’m happy to see the steps that are now underway to ensure inclusion of not only people of color, but people for all underrepresented communities,” says Baker. 

Editors and publishers: Request access to the database here.

In addition to Howard and Hostetter, OM4I includes editor Douglas Schnitzspahn (Elevation Outdoors and Outdoor Retailer) and Trina Ortega, editor-in-chief of Mountain Flyer

“We hope to empower people and help grow a new generation of contributors,” says Schnitzspahn. “We see this as a chance to create long-lasting change.”

“As outdoor sports have grown over the years, they’ve become more cliquey and elite. As a Latina journalist, if I had not pushed my way into the field when I was young, I don’t know if I would feel comfortable today seeking out the contacts to expand my career,” Ortega says. “This is a starting point.”

The working group itself is additionally seeking more diverse representation within  OM4I. If you are a writer, editor, or publisher who identifies as BIPOC or as part of another marginalized group interested in joining our weekly meetings and can commit to 30 minutes each week, please email Schnitzspahn, Hostetter or Howard. 

For more information, contact:

Doug Schnitzspahn, doug@elevationoutdoors.com

Kristin Hostetter, khostetter@pocketoutdoormedia.com

Adam Howard, howie@holpublications.com

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Outdoor Media 4 Inclusion (OM4I) is a small, volunteer-based coalition of outdoor industry editors and publishers working together to celebrate diverse voices through outdoor media. 

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