Diversity in newsrooms

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Survey: Newsroom diversity lagging

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Newsroom diversity continues to be a challenge for news organizations in the United States, according to the 2019 ASNE Newsroom Diversity Survey.

The American Society of News Editors received responses to its 41st annual survey from 429 news organizations. Both print/digital newsrooms and online-only outlets responded to the survey. The results (PDF download), released last Tuesday, found that people of color comprised 21.9% of salaried employees in 2018, compared with 21.8% the year before. Online-only news outlets surveyed said they had increased the racial diversity of their salaried employees by more than 6 percentage points, from 24.6% in 2017 to 30.8% in 2018.

Almost a fifth (19.1%) of newsroom managers at responding news organizations in 2018 were people of color, slightly higher than the previous year’s 17.6%. More than 40% of managers were women (compared with about 42% in 2017); 2% of managers identified as gender nonbinary.

The response rate increased in 2018: Almost a quarter (23%) of the 1,883 news outlets that received the survey returned it, up from 17% — a record low — the year before.

For teachers

Discuss: Is it important that the staffs of local newsrooms reflect the diversity of the community they cover? Why? Should newsrooms that cover communities that aren’t very diverse still make diversity a priority? Why or why not? What kinds of diversity should newsrooms focus on?

Idea: Contact local print and/or online news organizations and ask if they participated in the ASNE Newsroom Diversity Survey. If they didn’t, ask why, and whether they will next year. If they did, ask if they will share their data with your class.

Another idea: Another idea: Ask students to use the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder portal to research demographic information about their community. Then compare the census data with survey data from a local newsroom (if available) or with the ASNE survey results

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