The percentage of ethnic minorities in American newsrooms has stagnated at between 12 and 13 percent for more than a decade, according to the annual census released today by the American Society of News Editors.
The census includes responses from nearly 1,000 out of almost 1,400 daily U.S. newspapers and was conducted with the Center for Advanced Social Research. It finds that ethnic minorities make up 12.37 percent of newsrooms in 2013, down from a high of 13.73 percent in 2006.
That trendline is of great concern to the nonprofit professional organization. If it continues, ASNE will fall well short of their goal of having the percentage of ethnic minorities working in newsrooms nationwide reflect their representation in the overall population by 2025, when it is predicted to reach 42.39 percent.
"It's terribly disappointing to learn that diversity in newsrooms remains stagnant despite the rapidly changing landscape of America," said Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news at the Democrat and Chronicle Media Group, Rochester, and co-chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee, in a press release announcing the census' results. "If we are to accurately reflect and authentically cover the communities we serve, we must do much better as an industry or we risk becoming irrelevant to news consumers of the future."
The moribund growth of the minority population in newsrooms is mirrored in the lack of diversity in cable news.A Media Matters study of evening cable news shows found that white men were hosted 58 percent of the time in April 2013, a figure nearly unchanged from a similar study we conducted in May 2008.
Other lowlights of the ASNE census include:
Ethnic Minorities Make Up Only 10 Percent Of Newsroom Supervisors
People of color are slightly underrepresented in the editorial ranks compared to their percentage in newsrooms overall.
Percentage Of Ethnic Minorities In Newsroom Internships Has Fallen
Many aspiring journalists get their first taste of a professional newsroom as interns. Ethnic minorities made up 26 percent of newsroom interns in 2013, down from 27.2 percent in 2012 and a significant underrepresentation relative to minorities' 37 percent share of the general population. Moreover, the large and consistent gap between the percentage of ethnic minorities who are newsroom interns and their share of newsroom jobs suggests a disconnect in the hiring process.
Even worse, the percentage of minorities in internships has fallen significantly from their nearly 40 percent share in the early 1990s.
Percentage Of Women In Newsrooms Has Never Exceeded 38 Percent
While ASNE's press release focuses on the worthy goal of ethnic minorities reaching parity in newsrooms, the census also shows the percentage of women in newsrooms has gone virtually unchanged for 14 years, never exceeding 38 percent.
Women Also Underrepresented As Newsroom Supervisors
Women are 34.6 percent of newsroom supervisors in 2013. That figure peaked at 35.6 percent in 2006.
Charts by Oliver Willis.