ASNE Study: Percentage of Minority Journalists Down Slightly

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By: Joe Strupp

The percentage of minority journalists working in U.S .newsrooms decreased slightly to 13.62% this year from 13.87% a year ago, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ annual survey, which included full-time online journalists for the first time.

This marks just the second time since the survey began in 1978 that the percentage of minorities had dropped. The last decline occurred in 2001.

But, while the percentage of minorities fell, the number of minority journalists actually increased, by about 200, to 7,800, the report showed.

The survey also found nearly 2,000 full-time journalists working only on their newspapers’ Web sites, with 16% minorities.

“The good news in the online operations doesn’t outweigh the bad news in these numbers”? said Dave Zeeck, ASNE president. “And the fact that the only two years diversity numbers have gone down were also the two toughest economic years for newspapers in recent memory only means we need to redouble our efforts. We have to remember that diversity isn?t just about numbers, it?s about making our news reports better. Diverse staffs lead to better journalism.”

ASNE Diversity Committee chair Phil Currie said the drop in the percentage of minorities “is very disappointing when you realize how the demographics of so many local communities — and of the nation — are changing so dramatically.”

Other highlights of the survey include:

— Minorities account for 10.9% of all supervisors in newsrooms which brings this percentage down to its level two years ago. Of all minorities, 20% are supervisors.

— 392 newspapers had no minorities on their full-time staff, an increase from last year’s 377. The majority of these newspapers have circulations of 10,000 or less.

— The percentage of minorities working at newspapers with more than 500,000 circulation is 17%; 250,001 to 500,000 circulation, 22%; 100,001 to 250,000 circulation now account for 27%.

In addition, the survey found that 27% of newspaper interns are minority and the percentage of women at newspapers decreased slightly from 37.7% to 37.56%.

ASNE?s first survey in 1978 found just 3.95% of the total newsroom workforce (1,700 out of 43,000) were minority.

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