ASNE census shows newsroom diversity grows slightly
Posted 4/25/2006 12:57:00 PM
SEATTLE -- The number of minority journalists in American newsrooms grewslightly last year while overall newsroom employment held steady, buttressedby theaddition of free daily general interest newspapers, according tothe American Society of Newspaper Editors 29th annual newsroomcensus.
Without the addition of 11 free dailies, newsroom employment would have slippedby 600 journalists. Thus, paid circulation newspapers have dropped about2,800 journalists in the past five years as the industry has struggledeconomically.
Meanwhile the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms crept up from 13.42to 13.87 percent.
Though newspapers are increasing their hiring and retention of minority journalists,newsroom diversity is falling behind the nation’s rapidly changing demographics.A third of the U.S. populationis now minority, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. CensusBureau.
"I'm glad to see that in a tough economic year for most newspapers, therewas progress in minority hiring and retention, albeit slight,” said ASNEPresident Rick Rodriguez, executive editor, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee. “But the numbers also show that we still have an awfullong way to go to reach our benchmarks and ultimately our goal of parity.That continues to be frustrating."
The industry is falling further behind benchmark targets set by ASNE six yearsago to chart performance toward a goal of newsroom parity with the U.S. minority population by 2025. Every threeyears, the editors report the progress toward achieving this goal.
This year’s report card shows that newsrooms have failed to meet the five benchmarkcategories:
- The benchmark for percentage of minorities working in newsrooms by this year is 18.55. The actual percentage: 13.87.
- The goal for minority interns is 36.35 percent of the total pool. The actual number: 30.8 percent.
- The goal for minority supervisors is 16 percent. The actual number: 11.2 percent
- The target for the number of newspapers with no minority staffers was to reduce them to 275. The actual number: 377.
- The benchmark for the number of newspapers that have reached parity with their community is 348. The actual number: 145.
“While it’s encouraging that the number of minority staffers in American newsroomsis up, the increase — .45 percent — is almost imperceptible,” said ASNEDiversity Chair Sharon Rosenhause, managingeditor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale. “The most troubling aspect of the census is the benchmarkcategories; none are even close.”
“The country is changing faster and more dramatically than our newspapers andnewsrooms, Rosenhause continued. “It takesvery determined editors, newspaper and media companies to make a differenceand, right now, not enough are.”
The addition of all free daily general interest newspapers added 11 new newspapersto the survey for a total of 1,417 daily newspapers. Including the freenewspapers brings the estimated number of full-time journalists to 54,809.In last year’s census, the newsroom employment number was 54,134. Inthe 2001 survey, fulltime journalists totaled 56,393.
For the first time, ASNE asked editors about their online operations and foundthat 51 percent of the Web operations reported to the editor. A smallnumber of large newspapers have separate online staffs. In the smallestnewspapers, the editor is the online operation. The top editor oftenupdates the Web site.
ASNE also surveyed the newsrooms of Spanish dailies started by the Miami Herald,The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star and the Tribune Company.Three responded and those staffs total 93 full-time journalists.
Highlights of the 2006 survey:
- Supervisors: Minorities account for 11.2 percent ofall supervisors in newsrooms up from 10.8 percent. Twenty percent ofall minorities are supervisors, the same as last year.
- Newspapers with no minorities: Sixty-six percent of the 377 newspaperswith no minority professionals have circulations of 10,000 or less andserve small communities.
- Where do minorities work: The percentage of minorities workingat newspapers with more than 500,000 circulation is16 percent, down slightly from 18.4 last year. The percentage of minorities at newspapersfrom 250,001 to 500,000 circulation is now 24percent, the same as last year; minorities at newspapers from 100,001to 250,000 circulation now account for 25 percent, up from 23 percent.
- Internships: The number of minority interns fell from948 in the 2005 survey to 861 in this year’s survey, reflecting the generalbelt-tightening in the newspaper industry.
- Women: The percentage of women in daily newsrooms increasedslightly to 37.7 percent. Minority women account for 17.55 percent offemale newsroom staffers, up slightly from 17.20 percent last year.
- Men: Men now total 34,145. Minority men account for 11.6percent of male newsroom staffers, up slightly from 11.1 percent lastyear.
- Job categories: 64.5 percent of all supervisors are men.They are also 58.5 percent of all copy editors, 60.3 percent of reportersand 72.6 percent of photographers.
ASNE’s Diversity Mission
Increasing diversity in U.S. newspaper newsrooms has been a primary ASNEmission since 1978. The Society has been an industry leader in helpingnewspapers better reflect their communities. It provides career informationto aspiring journalists. The Society sponsors and coordinates a varietyof initiatives and projects, including job fairs directed at young journalistsof color and seminars for editors on the changing demographics of the
ASNE’s initial survey in 1978 revealed thatminority journalists comprised 3.95 percent of the total newsroom workforce(1,700 out of 43,000). The survey is a tool ASNE uses to measure thesuccess of its goal of having the percentage of minorities working innewsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of minorities in the nation’spopulation by 2025. Currently minorities make up 33 percent of the U.S. population.
For the 2006 ASNE newsroom employment census, 928 of the 1,417 daily newspapersresponded to the survey, representing 65.49 percent of all U.S. dailies.The census is based on employment data reported by daily newspapers.
The survey data are projected toreflect all daily newspapers in the country. Editors participatingin the survey agree to publish the percentage of newsroom employeeswho are minorities. Beginning this year, the ASNE board also agreedto list the percentage for each minority group at each newspaper. Alist of newspapers with their percentages follows the summary and tables.
The data from newspapers that returned the survey are used to project the numbersfor nonresponding newspapers in the same circulationrange. An ASNE follow-up test of nonresponding newspapers found their employment of minoritiesclosely resembles newspapers in their circulation categories that respondto the survey. The survey figures reported above are weighted in thisway to reflect all daily newspapers. ASNE has implemented internal monitoringprocedures to ensure the consistency and credibility of the employmentdata. 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 about 750 members, is an organizationof the main editors of daily newspapers throughout the Americas.Founded in 1922, ASNE is active in a number of areas of interest to topeditors with priorities on improving freedom of information, diversity,readership and credibility of newspapers.