Why Don’t Newsroom Diversity Initiatives Work? Blame Journalism Culture.

The Kerner Commission tried 51 years ago. ASNE has been trying for 41 years. Corporations have tried initiatives on and off for decades. And Monday, the Knight Foundation and the Maynard Institute announced the latest attempt to attempt to help America’s journalism institutions diversify their staffs.


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One thought on “Why Don’t Newsroom Diversity Initiatives Work? Blame Journalism Culture.

  • August 7, 2019 at 11:09 am

    I’ve worked in four different community newsrooms during my 32 years in newspaper journalism and I’ve yet to see a majority of straight white males — with the exception of the small Nevada paper which had a two-man editorial staff — my editor and myself. At a weekly property in Southern California, there were two of us (SWM) and the rest of the staff consisted of females, including an African-American young lady. In my newsroom in Northern California, the features editor was a female, the main editorial assistant was a female, a reporter was a female and one of our two staff photographers was a female, compared to a consistent rotation of approximately six males, of which at least most, if not all, were SWM’s. Not hardly an overwhelming dominant majority. At my newspaper in Oklahoma, I’ve worked for two female editor’s-in-chief, one of them for more than six years, a female assistant editor for several years, and numerous females in various editorial positions and reporters, including a couple of African-American female reporters, and a couple of self-proclaimed gays. I don’t know that SWM’s have ever been a majority in this newsroom, and if so, it was during a transitory time as people came and left. I suspect the experiences I have had in newsroom diversity is more the rule than the exception. Currently, our editorial department makeup is 67-percent females. I disagree — based on my experiences and observations — with the concept of some ambiguous and pervading “journalism culture” that is anti-female, anti-race or anti-diversity. Regardless of what their personal social views might be, I believe experienced newspaper journalists accept on a professional level their co-workers as colleagues, at least of community-based publications.


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