2002 census

Newsroom employment drops sharply; diversity increases

Posted 4/8/2002 4:53:00 PM

NEW ORLEANS --- Diversityin the newsrooms of American daily newspapers improved by nearly half of one percent in 2002, but the growth of minority journalists to 12.53 percent ofnewsroom staff lagged behind the percentage of minorities in the U.S. population,which is now 31.1 percent.

WASHINGTON - Nearly 2,000 journalists left the newspaper industry last year, the largest loss in 25 years,while the percent of minority journalists working at daily newspapers rose nearlya half of one percentage point to 12.07 percent.

Newsrooms had a net lossof 1,979 people, mostly reporters at medium-size newspapers, according to theannual census of newsroom employment conducted by The American Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001, many publishers and editors offered buyouts to senior staffersand laid off other employees as the industry struggled to cope with the recessionand a decline in advertising.

The increase in the percentageof minority journalists working at daily newspapers came after a decrease from11.85 percent to 11.64 percent in the 2001 survey. The overall decline in minoritypercentage was the first since ASNE established the annual census in 1978.

"These numbers evoke asigh of relief not exhilaration," said ASNE President Tim McGuire. "I am pleasedwe are back on the positive track since many people had made dire predictionsthat the economic downturn was especially harmful to journalists of color.

"It is obvious editorsand publishers were sensitive to these issues when they made cutbacks," he continued."But this modest increase should prove to us that when the industry starts tohire more journalists we must have programs in place to improve both hiringand retention."

ASNE Diversity Chair, CarolinaGarcia, agreed. "Even as the industry lost a large number of journalists, it'sapparent that editors were committed to retaining journalists of color. Viewedagainst the potential loss, the overall gain in the number of minority journalists,while exceedingly small, is still a victory.

"Clearly, we will haveto focus a great deal of time and energy into creating and implementing programsaimed at keeping our journalists of color," Garcia said.


  • Newsrooms lost 3,828 white staffers, the highest total in the 25 years that ASNE has conducted its annual census. The second highest number of white departures — 3,724 — occurred in the midst of the last recession in the early '90s.
  • At the same time 1,845 whites were hired — a net loss of 1,983. The result: a drop in the white retention rate from 95 percent to 92 percent.
  • The number of minorities totaled 6,567 with 447 hires and 443 departures. That pushed up the minority retention rate from 90 percent in the 2001 survey to 93 percent in the 2002 census.å
  • Among the departed: 1,101 reporters, 437 supervisors, 225 copy editors and 216 photographers and artists.
  • America's largest newspapers lost 144 people, while 1,203 left newspapers of 50,001 to 250,000 circulation.

Detailed findings ofthe 2002 newsroom employment survey

  • Racial/ethnic groups: This is a breakdown of newsroom staffs by minority group. Asian Americans African Americans Hispanics Native Americans 2002 2.36 (1,283) 5.29 (2,879) 3.86 (2,098) 0.56 (307) 2001 2.30 (1,299) 5.23 (2,951) 3.66 (2,064) 0.44 (249)
  • Internships: The number of minority interns declined but the percentage of minority interns increased and now stands at 31.1 percent up from 29.0 percent. This is the first significant increase in the percentage of minority interns since 1996.
  • Newspapers with no minorities: The number of newspapers with no minorities increased. Slightly. Last year, 422 newspapers responded that they had no minorities, or 44 percent. This year that number rose to 431 papers, or 45 percent. In 2000, the number of papers with no minorities had declined to 368 papers or 39 percent of newspapers.
  • Supervisors: Twenty percent of all minorities were supervisors, a slight increase from last year. Overall, minorities account for 9.7 percent of the total number of supervisors in newsrooms.
  • Where do minorities work: Nearly two-thirds of all minority journalists continue to work at papers with circulations exceeding 100,000.

Other findings

The percentage of womenin daily newsrooms declined slightly from 37.35 percent to 37.05 percent. Women represented 34 percent of newsroom supervisors, the same percentage as last year.

  • Women on daily newspaper staffs total 20,161 a decrease of 901. Of the total 2,991, or 14.83 percent, are minorities.
  • Men on daily newspaper staffs total 34,253 a decrease of 1,078. Of these, 3,577 are minorities, or 10.44 percent.
  • Job categories: 22 percent of women are supervisors, 22 percent copy editors, 48 percent reporters and 8 percent photographers and artists. Men: 26 percent are supervisors, 18 percent copy editors, 43 percent reporters and 13 percent photographers.
  • Of the 956 newspapers participating in the survey, only one percent have no women, the same as last year. The newspapers with no women are very small.

ASNE's Diversity Mission

Increasing diversity inU.S. newspaper newsrooms has been a primary ASNE mission since 1978. The Societyhas been an industry leader in helping newspapers better reflect their communities.It serves as an information clearinghouse and provides career information toaspiring journalists. The Society sponsors a variety of initiatives and projects,including job fairs directed at young journalists of color and seminars foreditors on the changing demographics of the U.S.

ASNE's initial survey in1978 revealed that minority journalists comprised 3.95 percent of the totalnewsroom workforce (1,700 out of 43,000). The survey is a tool ASNE uses tomeasure the success of its goal of having the percentage of minorities workingin newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of minorities in the nation'spopulation by 2025. Currently minorities make up 30 percent of the U.S. population.

Census procedures

For the 2002 ASNE newsroomemployment census, 956 of the 1,435 daily newspapers responded to the survey,representing 66.62 percent of all U.S. dailies. The census is based on employmentdata reported by daily newspapers.

The survey data are projectedto reflect all daily newspapers in the country. Editors participating in thesurvey 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 newspapersthat returned the survey are used to project the numbers for nonresponding newspapersin the same circulation range. An ASNE follow-up test of nonresponding newspapersfound their employment of minorities closely resembles newspapers in their circulationcategories that respond to the survey. The survey figures reported above areweighted in this way to reflect all daily newspapers. ASNE has implemented internalmonitoring procedures to ensure the consistency and credibility of the employmentdata. Moreover, because the survey procedures remain constant each year, theASNE census provides highly reliable year-to-year comparisons.

The American Society ofNewspaper Editors, with more than 800 members, is an organization of the maineditors of daily newspapers throughout the Americas. Founded in 1922, ASNE isactive in a number of areas of interest to top editors with priorities on improvingthe diversity, readership and credibility of newspapers.

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