By: Mark Fitzgerald
When it comes to diversity, an awful lot of newspapers are trying ? sincerely, even desperately ? to do it right. But only a few are actually doing so, as the woeful results of the American Society of Newspaper Editors minority newsroom census attests year after year. In the latest census, the number of journalists of color working in daily newsrooms averaged 13.42%, up a microscopic four-tenths of 1 percent from 2005.
Back in 2000, The Denver Post was barely an average performer on diversity. Despite all its efforts, the Post’s newsroom minority percentage of 11.3% trailed the industry average by a half-percent.
Then in 2002, MediaNews Group CEO and Post Publisher William Dean Singleton lured Gregory L. Moore away from The Boston Globe. “A big part of what Dean and I talked about then was diversity,” Moore notes. When he signed on, the Post became the biggest paper at the time with an African American as its top editor. “I think the Post did a very good job on diversity even before Greg came, but Greg really put it in high gear,” adds Singleton.
While the industry has been creeping along, the Post has pushed its percentage of minority journalists from 11.3% in 2000 to 19.3% in the latest census. Ironically, that number may grow later this summer after the completion of the buyout process that will shrink the newsroom of 300 by 25 people. (No journalists of color have volunteered for the buyout, Moore says.)
The Post covers all the basics, from attending minority job fairs to making personal contacts, to identifying candidates at papers around the country. Moore also has put journalists of color and women in high-profile positions such as music and film critics and sports columnist.
The editor admits that Denver is not necessarily an easy sell to minorities. Some African Americans have even left the paper because they felt their personal and social lives were stunted by the relatively small black community.
In the Post newsroom, diversity isn’t just about the number of racial and ethnic minority employees, but also about diversity of career and life experiences, and geographic origins: There’s a surprising number of Southerners on staff. Moore notes, “Not everybody here is from Ivy League schools, I can tell you that.”
Not all of the Post’s staffers went to journalism school, either. “Some of the best talent we have throughout the company are people who never planned to become journalists,” Singleton adds.