Many Editors Have Misconceptions About Demos

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Many newspapers responding to the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) survey of newsroom diversity this year have inaccurate ideas about the demographics of their audiences, according to an analysis of the census by journalism researchers Bill Dedman and Steve Doig.

More editors underestimated, 394, than overestimated, 229, the percentages of racial and ethnic minorities in their circulation areas — with some way off: 184 respondents underestimated their minority populations by more than 25%, and 75 provided minority figures that were less than half of what the U.S. Census Bureau reported for their areas.

“One reason that editors may be making only slow progress toward their goal of employing minority journalists,” Dedman said, “is that the editors believe they’re a lot closer to the goal than they actually are.”

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