U.S. newsrooms continue to lack diversity

This chart from VOICES shows ASNE’s newsroom minority results. ©2011

In a highly diverse society, whites still dominate the newsroom.

According to the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), 5.7 percent of minority newsroom positions were lost in 2011 as revealed in a census by the ASNE along with the Center for Advanced Social Research (CASR) at the school of journalism in Missouri. In 2008 and 2009 there was a decline of 800 minority newsroom positions.

In ASNE’s article Total and minority newsroom employment declines in 2011 but loss continues to stabilize, Ronnie Agnew, co-chair of ASNE’s 2011-12 Diversity Committee and executive of Mississippi Public Broadcasting said, “While the numbers suggest stabilization, the trend shows that the exodus from this important industry among people of color continues…The decline will only stop when people in leadership embrace diversity as an essential part of their business.”

In his Washington Post article, Newsroom diversity: Falling short could be fatal, Andrew Alexander said Milton Coleman, deputy managing editor, warned top editors if they did not diversify their newsroom, a price would be paid. “Immigration is driving population growth, especially throughout our increasingly important suburbs,” Coleman said. The Post’s circulation area contains 43 percent of minorities, Alexander said. “For the Post, being ‘good on diversity’ isn’t enough.”

In a post from Journalism in the Americas, Summer Harlow said only 12.3 percent of minorities make up the U.S. newsroom.

In an online video from C-Span on April 6, 2006, Bergen County Record Deputy Features Editor, Theodan Janes said he felt comfortable in the newsroom he worked in, however, he soon noticed the lack of diversity in management positions. Janes said this concerned him, as he wondered if there would ever be an opportunity for him. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/1397516

Visual journalist Michael Rocha faced typical Asian American stereotypes. He wrote in his article, Minority Journalism Organizations: Do They Matter? Yes!, “…I always felt out of place, like I didn’t quite belong.”

Rocha said this diversity fight began long ago. For too long, blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, women, and gays have been left out of the news scene, Rocha said. “Each day, all of us as journalists must make it our goal to ask ourselves if we have done everything we can to make sure our stories reflect the voices and the faces of the communities we serve,” Rocha said. “Are those voices, are those faces, truly reflective of the colorful palette of cultures in our neighborhoods?”


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