ASNE Diversity Director Stepping Down, But Newsroom Census to Continue

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By: E&P Staff

The American Society of News Editors’ (ASNE) longtime director of diversity, Bobbi Bowman, is leaving at the end of June, and her position will be eliminated — at a time when the meager gains that newspapers have made in diversifying their newsrooms are being reversed by mass layoffs.

ASNE said it will continue the annual newsroom diversity census of daily newspapers that it has conducted since 1978. Bowman will become a consultant to ASNE.

The group has been the newspaper industry’s point organization on diversity, adopting a series of goals for daily newspapers to achieve parity between the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in newsrooms and the percentage in the population at large. The year to achieve parity has been pushed back several times, and is now 2025 or earlier.

This year’s census found that overall newsroom employment fell 11.3%, with the number of white journalists, who comprise 86.59% of newsroom employment, falling by about the same number, 11.4%.

But the number of black journalists, who now comprise 5.17% of newsroom employees, fell by 13.55%, and the number of Asian Americans, who make up 3.14% of newsrooms, fell by 13.36%, according to an analysis of the figures by Unity: Journalists of Color Inc. Hispanic journalists, now 4.47% of newsrooms, fell by slightly less than the overall total at 11.0%, while Native American journalists, who comprise just 0.6% of newsrooms, increased their numbers by 3.17%.

Bowman’s departure comes as Scott Bosley, executive director since 1999, announced Tuesday that he is resigning at the end of the year.

For ASNE, 2009 has been a year of financial crisis. It canceled this year’s annual convention planned for April in Chicago, and lost a substantial amount of funding when a matching grant with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation was ended.

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