February 16, 2016

Mark Luckie left Twitter as manager of news and journalism when he realized his job was coming before deeply held beliefs.

“I left during the rise of the #blacklivesmatter protests,” he said. “…In leaving Twitter, I wanted to put my personal convictions first. I knew that this was an important time for Black people, LGBT people, women. I saw that happening and I wanted to do something about it.”

After some time pushing back against the lack of diversity in both media and tech worlds, Luckie announced Tuesday that he’s headed for Reddit, where he’ll work as the head of journalism and media.

At the company, Luckie plans to be part of internal conversations about how people from diverse backgrounds are using Reddit. Externally, he wants the company to send the message that it cares about diversity, including diversity of thought.

“At Reddit, the biggest thing for me is that there is so much cool stuff happening that it really gets buried in there,” he said.

By leaving Twitter, Luckie wanted the freedom to be vocal and call out inconsistencies. It was scary, he said. He had no experience as an activist, but the reception was surprising (and mostly good). After Luckie announced his new job, I asked him for his advice to other people who want to push for diversity in their workplaces. Here’s what he said:

  1. Gather your people. “You have to provide a united front,” he said. “If it’s just you waving the flag by yourself, people aren’t going to take you as seriously as they possibly could. So the first step is to gather your people.”
  2. Be clear. “What do you want to see change?” Luckie asked. Clearly outline it so when it’s time to talk, you don’t get derailed.
    “I’ve learned that lesson from watching the #blacklivesmatter protests evolve,” he said.

    He’s watched the movement grow from one-on-one interactions into a network of people galvanized around very specific ideas and goals. And they’ve been so successful, he said, that presidential candidates are creating strategies based on their feedback.

  3. Stick with it. Luckie stopped working at Twitter, but he didn’t leave Twitter entirely. He created Today In #BlackTwitter to help himself and others discover the conversations happening there.
  4. Understand their goals. Is it staff retention? Diverse content? Making money? Understanding the goals of where you work is “what will really make your goals a reality,” Luckie said.
  5. If they won’t build it, build it yourself.
  6. “If I see something that needs to be built, it’s gonna be done and then used as an example of what others can do,” Luckie said. “I’m not gonna wait on other people. I’m gonna show and prove.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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