Journalism lacks minority professionals

America is a “melting pot” of different races and cultures, but how much of the pot is being represented in newsrooms across the country?

The minority population in The United States has risen approximately 10 percent in the past 20 years. However, even with this increase of diversity in the nation, the number of minorities in broadcasting has continued to decline.

Each year, Radio Television Digital News Association runs a survey on diversity data in broadcasting. Every annual report shows that the numbers for minorities have not been able to climb very much, especially in the Midwest region. For example, in 2012, the minority population for the US stood at 36.6 percent. Meanwhile, only 21.5 percent of the TV broadcasting workforce are minorities. This is only a 3.7 percent increase from the last 20 years; it was 17.8 in 1990.

minorityResults from Radio Television Digital News Association minority survey throughout a 12 year span. This includes television and radio broadcasting.

 Do Budget Cuts Play a Part Today?

American Society of News Editors has reported that the numbers declined even further in the past year because of budget cuts. As more and more news organizations face down-sizing, the number of minorities decline even further. A recent survey covered by ASNE, which about 71 percent of 1,386 daily newspapers participated in, shows that overall newsroom employment has dropped from 41,600 to 40,600. But among minorities, the decrease has been more than twice as large: 5.7 percent, from 5,300 to 5,000. The numbers have become so small that Sarah Glover, a journalist at Philadelphia Daily News has become the only woman of color in her entire news staff.

What Diversity Leaders In Newsrooms Have To Say

President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Michele Salcedo said through an email with Poynter that she is “disturbed” with the lack of representation of Hispanics in newsrooms. Similarly, Gregory Lee, president National Association of Black Journalists, suggested that ASNE design their surveys so that they can further dissect the statistics of newsrooms in America. He wants more specific results, such as the numbers in sports broadcasting departments.

Diversity journalist leaders from across the country gathered in Atlanta at the 2013 Online News Association conference. The conference was open to all attendees in the industry, but newsroom editors and directors of color were asked for input on the topic. Michael Bolden, editorial director at Knight Foundation, said that publishers, editors and directors should “go the extra mile to ensure that newsrooms continue to reflect the diversity of our communities.”

Several other leaders speak out about this issue at the conference:

Journalism may be shifting through the years, but if leaders of any color, race, or background continue to step up and reflect the diversity of their communities onto their news staff, it will be a positive change for the industry in the future.

-Juana Moya

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