By Scott Procter
This United States is a melting pot of different colors, races, ethnicities and backgrounds, so why should a news room not be as diverse as the people it serves and covers?
The American Society of News Editors does an annual study of newsroom diversity and the results should come to no surprise to someone who is familiar with the production of news. The numbers of the 2016 study show 87 percent of newsroom supervisors were white. At a time when minorities make up 37 percent of the U.S population, according to the U.S Census Bureau, no newsrooms match this. In fact, minority journalists comprised just 17 percent of the workforce in newsrooms and only 28 percent of the news organizations reported having at least one minority journalist among their top three editors in 2016.
With fewer minorities getting the opportunity to work in news, diverse readers don’t get the opportunity to see themselves, and people who look like them, represented in news. This causes minorities to think their interests are being ignored, distorted or undervalued. In a 2014 study by the American Press Institute, only 25 percent of African-Americans and 33 percent of Hispanics said they felt the media accurately reflected their community.
We live in a world where most news media is reported by white males, about white males. This does no real justice to a country with a large and growing minority population. How can any news organization accurately reflect a community if there aren’t a few, or any, non-white voices in the newsroom? To cover some of the nation’s most controversial topics such as immigration and policing in minority communities, you need diverse voices, people with first-hand experiences of these issues.
While the numbers of minority population in the newsroom are slowly moving up, the pace of diversity needs to catch up with the population. Stories of communities, issues and people seldom hear about in the news are waiting to be told by the very people who deal with them.