Newsroom employment up slightly, minority numbers plunge for third year
Posted 4/7/2011 11:53:00 AM
American newspapers showed a very slim increase in newsroom employees last year, finally halting a three-year exodus of journalists.
The percentage of minorities in newsrooms totaled 12.79 percent, a decline of .47 percentage points from a year ago, according to the American Society of News Editors, which has conducted a census of professional full-time journalists since 1978.
This is the third consecutive year that the percentage of African-American, Asian, Latino, and Native American journalists has declined in U.S. newsrooms.
The number of professional journalists rose from an estimated 41,500 in 2009 to 41,600 in 2010, according to ASNE’s most recently completed census of online and traditional newspapers. American daily newspapers lost 13,500 newsroom jobs from 2007 to 2010.
In the most recent ASNE census, minority journalists declined from 5,500 to 5,300.
“At a time when the U.S. Census shows that minorities are 36 percent of the U.S. population, newsrooms are going in the opposite direction. This is an accuracy and credibility issue for our newsrooms,” said Milton Coleman, ASNE president.
“The slight decline in minority newsroom representation may be small, but is part of a disturbing trend that we need to reverse,” said Ronnie Agnew, co-chair of ASNE’s Diversity Committee.
“The U.S. Census numbers clearly tell us that people of color populations are growing while our newsrooms aren't reflecting that growth. This should be a concern to all who see diversity as an accurate way of telling the story of a new America,” Agnew said.
Karen Magnuson, co-chair of ASNE’s Diversity Committee: "Accurately reflecting the diversity of our communities in our newsrooms and local reports is essential to our industry's success -- now more than ever. As minority populations grow, we must grow with them, finding innovative ways to meet evolving needs for coverage and information delivery."
ASNE also surveyed the staffs at 61 online only newspapers. Fifty percent returned their survey forms, compared to more than 59 percent response rate from 1,389 daily newspapers.
Highlights of the 2011 Survey
- Supervisors: Minorities account for 11 percent of all supervisors in newsrooms, which remains virtually unchanged for the past four years. Of all minorities, 22 percent are supervisors.
- Newspapers with no minorities: 441 newspapers responding to the ASNE census had no minorities on their full-time staff. This number has been growing since 2006.
- Where do minorities work: Sixty percent of minorities work at newspapers with circulations exceeding 100,000. Of minority journalists, 19 percent work at newspapers with greater than 500,000 circulation, 14 percent at 250,001 to 500,000 circulation papers; and 27 percent at 100,001 to 250,000 circulation papers.
- Online: The responding news organizations showed 1,581 journalists working online only. Nearly 18.72 percent were minority.
ASNE started counting online-only journalists working in print newsrooms in 2007. This year ASNE also surveyed 61 online only news sites, and received responses from just over 50 percent.
- Internships: The percentage of interns who are minorities stands at 24.40 percent, a decrease from 27.4 percent last year.
- First time hires: Minorities represented 19 percent of the journalists hired for their first full-time newsroom job, up from 16 percent last year.
- Women: Women working full-time in daily newspapers total about 15,400 or 36.92 percent.
Minority women accounted for 19.3 percent of female newsroom staffers.
- Men: Men working full-time in daily newspapers total nearly 26,300. Minority men account for 10.8 percent of male newsroom staffers.
ASNE’s Diversity Mission
Increasing diversity in U.S. newsrooms has been a primary ASNE mission since 1978. ASNE is an industry leader in helping news organizations better reflect their communities. ASNE’s initial survey in 1978 revealed that minority journalists comprised 3.95 percent of the total newsroom work force (1,700 out of 43,000). Then there were more than 1,700 general circulation daily newspapers. 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 46 percent of the U.S. population.
For the 2011 census, 847 out of 1,450 print and online newspapers responded to the survey, representing 58.4 percent of all U.S. dailies.
The data from newspapers that returned the survey are used to project the numbers for nonresponding newspapers in the same circulation range. An ASNE follow-up test of nonresponding newspapers found their employment of minorities closely resembles newspapers in their circulation categories that respond to the sury. 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.
Editors participating in the survey agree to publish the percentage of newsroom employees who are minorities. In 2006, the ASNE board also agreed to list the percentage for each minority group at each newspaper. A list of newspapers with their percentages follows the summary and tables.
The American Society of News Editors is a membership organization for leaders of multimedia news organizations and deans and endowed chairs at accredited journalism schools. ASNE focuses on open government and the First Amendment, journalism education, leadership and diversity.