Letrell Deshan Crittenden

Letrell Deshan Crittenden is API’s Director of Inclusion and Audience Growth. In this role, he builds upon API’s work in the area of organizational and cultural change and deepens the organization’s focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

Dr. Crittenden is the creator of the Assessing Diversity and Inclusion in News Ecosystems rubric, which allows for a systemic look at the challenges news organizations face and offers opportunities to look at the goals of DEI/B from many different facets.

Dr. Crittenden joined API from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where he was program director and assistant professor of communication. He specializes in issues related to diversity and inclusion in news and community-engaged journalism. At Jefferson, he ​​helped revamp the program’s curriculum and served as the inaugural Diversity Advocate for the College of Humanities and Sciences. For his efforts inside and outside the classroom, he received the university’s 2021 Provost’s Award for Service to the Profession. He has also been a fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and the Media and Inequality Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Crittenden earned his Ph.D. in communication from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His doctoral dissertation focused on the history of the National Association of Black Journalists, of which he is a member.

Prior to his academic career, Dr. Crittenden was a police and government reporter and is a veteran practitioner of community journalism. He is editor and co-researcher for the Germantown Info Hub, a collaboration with Temple University designed to provide better news coverage of the city’s Germantown neighborhood. He has also consulted for API on diversity-related issues as part of our community listening work.

Inside the Inclusion Index

Welcome to American Press Institute’s four-week series on our Inclusion Index approach to serving communities of color and implementing concrete, sustainable DEIB changes within and outside of the newsroom. Each Monday for the next four weeks, API Director of Inclusion and Audience Growth Letrell Crittenden will share insights from his recent work with the Pittsburgh […]

Limitations of report/intervention and future research

To get a full understanding of how an ecosystem operates, it is imperative that broadcasters participate in DEIB work.

Inclusion Index report: Assessing the Pittsburgh news ecosystem’s commitment to DEIB

A summary of API's Inclusion Index work in Pittsburgh, starting with the cohort’s inclusion scores and ending with recommendations for effective ways they can work as a whole to improve the Pittsburgh media ecosystem.


Issues related to DEIB and Pittsburgh news media have been explored going back a decade.

Summary of findings and Index scores

API’s index is based on measurements of seven key areas we feel are essential to building a strong connection with communities of color within an ecosystem.  

Key ecosystem recommendations

Trust cannot be rebuilt without a strong investment in community engagement.

Design and research

Our goal was to have a cohort inclusive of broadcast, digital-first and traditional print newsrooms working within the city.

How the creator of API’s Inclusion Index wants to improve coverage of communities of color

One moment years ago remains influential in my thinking about issues of diversity and inclusion inside and outside of the newsroom. In the hallway of an upstate New York courthouse, a local Black pastor came up to me. What he told me was quite jarring. “Man, you’re a racist,” he told me. I was dumbfounded. […]