2000 census

Minority journalists make small gains in daily newspapers

Posted 4/12/2000 6:21:52 PM

WASHINGTON - The number of minority journalists working at daily newspapers grew in the past year by a third of a percentage point moving from 11.55 percent to 11.85 percent, according to the 2000 newsroom employment survey issued by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. This marks the largest percentage increase since the 1995 survey.

Meanwhile, the percentage of women in daily newsrooms stands at 37.12 up from 36.88, according to the ASNE report. Women represented 34 percent of all newsroom supervisors, the same percentage as last year. This is the second year that ASNE has counted the number of women working at the nation's daily newspapers.

Overall newsroom employment grew by 1,100. It totaled 56,200 in the 2000 survey, compared to 55,100 in the 1999 survey. This is the largest increase since the 1996 survey. The number of minorities in the work force increased 300 to 6,700, according to the ASNE survey. This represents the largest increase in minority newsroom staffing since the 1995 survey.

"We are pleased with the progress newspaper newsrooms are making, but far from satisfied. While these are the best gains in some time, they are far from where we must be," said ASNE President N. Christian Anderson III, publisher of The Orange County Register, Santa Ana, Calif.

Diversity Committee chair Wanda Lloyd said: "We've spent the past year developing initiatives to move these numbers up faster in the future. We need the industry to support these initiatives. I'm optimistic about more progress in the near future." Lloyd is managing editor/features, administration and planning for The Greenville (S.C.) News.

While minorities grew across the board, black journalists as a percentage of the work force of newsroom staffs dipped slightly.

ASNE has tracked the growth of minorities in daily newsrooms since 1978 when minority journalists comprised 4 percent of the total newsroom workforce (1,700 out of 43,000). The survey is a tool ASNE uses to measure the success of its goal of having the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of minorities in the nation's population by 2025.

Currently, minorities make up 28.4 percent of the U.S. population and will grow to an estimated 38.2 percent by 2025, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Detailed findings of the 2000 newsroom employment survey:

Racial/ethnic groups: This is a breakdown of newsroom staffs by minority group:

  Asian Americans Blacks Hispanics Native Americans
2000 2.35 (1,321) 5.31 (2,984) 3.68 (2,068) 0.52 (292)
1999 2.29 (1,264) 5.36 2,953) 3.46 (1,905) 0.44 (241)

Internships and first-time hires: The percentage and number of minority interns rose slightly while the percentage and number of first-time minority hires fell. Of nearly 2,800 interns reported hired in the 2000 survey, 880 (31.42 percent) were minorities. In the 1999 ASNE report, there were 855 or 31.13 percent. First-time minority hires declined nearly a full percentage point, going from 18.72 percent (586 people) in 1999 to 17.74 (561) in this year's report. The percentage of new minority hires has generally declined since 1994.

Supervisors: Nine percent of all supervisors were minorities, while 19 percent of all minorities were supervisors, about the same percentages as last year. That means nearly 91 percent of all supervisors are white, while 25 percent of whites are supervisors.

Newspapers with no minorities: This number continues to slowly improve. Of the newspapers participating in the survey, 368 papers 39 percent  had no minority staffers compared to 40 percent last year and 42 percent the preceding year.

Where do minorities work: Nearly two-thirds of all minority journalists work at papers with circulations exceeding 100,000.

"We intend to keep the issue center-stage and to keep reminding ourselves that diverse newsrooms are essential to serving diverse communities," said Charlotte Hall, incoming chair of the Diversity Committee. "The committee looks forward to helping guide major new initiatives to increase the pipeline of journalists of color. At the same time, we are very concerned about retention and need to attack that problem vigorously." Hall is managing editor of Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

Highlights from the survey of women

  • Women on daily newspaper staffs total 20,876 up more than 500 from the previous year. Of those 3,095 or 14.8 percent are minorities. Job categories: 22 percent of women are supervisors, 21 percent are copy editors, 49 percent are reporters and 8 percent are photographers. The breakdown for men: 25 percent are supervisors, 18 percent are copy editors, 43 percent are reporters and 13 percent are photographers.

  • Of the newspapers participating in the survey, only one percent have no women, down from 2.3 percent last year. The newspapers have less than 10,000 circulation.

  • Where do women work: Women continue to make up nearly 40 percent of the staffers at both large and small newspapers. Women are more often found in papers with less than 10,000 circulation. Here women make up nearly 44 percent of the staffs.

Benchmarks to measure progress

Next year ASNE will start measuring the industry's progress in minority hiring and promotion against benchmarks adopted by the ASNE board in September 1999. The comparisons, to be reported every three years, will alert the industry to whether it is on target to meet the 2025 goals.

The 2001 benchmarks
Overall minority employment 13.5 percent
Interns 32.6 percent
Supervisors 11 percent
Number of papers with no minorities 350
Number of newspapers that have achieved parity with their community 58

Increasing diversity in U.S. newspaper newsrooms has been a primary ASNE mission for the past 22 years. The Society has been an industry leader in helping newspapers better reflect their communities. It serves as an information clearinghouse and provides career information to journalists just starting out. The Society sponsors a variety of initiatives and projects, including job fairs which are directed at young journalists of color, and an online Talent Bank, where editors can find candidates for internships and entry-level positions.

Census procedures

For the 2000 ASNE newsroom employment census, 953 of 1,451 daily newspapers responded to the survey, representing 65.7 percent of all U.S. dailies. The 2000 census is based on Dec. 31, 1999 employment data reported by daily newspapers.

The survey data are projected to reflect all daily newspapers in the country. Editors participating in the survey agree to publish the percentage of newsroom employees who are minorities. A list of newspapers with their percentages follows the summary and tables.

The data from newspapers that returned the survey are used to project the numbers for non-responding newspapers in the same circulation range. An ASNE follow-up test of non-responding newspapers found their employment of minorities closely resembles newspapers in their circulation categories that respond to the survey. The survey figures reported above are weighted in this way to reflect all daily newspapers. ASNE has implemented internal monitoring procedures to ensure the consistency and credibility of the employment data. Moreover, because the survey procedures remain constant each year, the ASNE census provides highly reliable year-to-year comparisons.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors, with 900 members, is an organization of the main editors of daily newspapers throughout the Americas. Founded in 1922, ASNE is active in a number of areas of interest to top editors with priorities on improving the diversity, readership and credibility of newspapers.