July 18, 2013

5 facts about ethnic and gender diversity in U.S. newsrooms

Last week, San Francisco Bay area television station KTVU broadcast fake names for the pilots of the Asiana Airline flight that crashed on July 6. The error involved ethnic stereotyping, leading the Asian American Journalists Association to assert that these kinds of mistakes “underscored the importance of newsroom diversity” at America’s media outlets. A similar issue was raised after an analysis this week that found New York Times stories quoted 3.4 times as many male sources as female sources.

The renewed attention to the composition of newsrooms comes in the wake of the American Society of News Editors’ (ASNE) annual survey of workforce diversity, which showed that minorities and women are less represented in newspaper newsrooms than in society at large. In recent years, progress on the diversity front has largely stalled.

ASNE has counted professional full-time newspaper journalists since it first released the census in1978. This year, 978 out of 1,382 daily print newspapers responded, representing 71% of all U.S. dailies.  In addition to the continued reduction in the size of the daily newspaper workforce in 2012, some of the key findings in the ASNE report relate to diversity in the newsroom.

Facts_1Overall, minority journalists accounted for 12% of the total newspaper newsroom workforce in 2012. That number changed little from 2011, but is down from a high of 14% in 2005. Non-whites make up about 39% of the total U.S. population. As a group, minorities in newsrooms are most highly represented in the fields of photography, art and videography at 16%, and least represented as supervisors (10%).

Facts_2Smaller newspapers are less likely to employ minority journalists. The data reveal something of a large paper/small paper divide when it comes to employing minority journalists. In 2012, a little less than 20% of employees at newspapers with circulations larger than 250,000 were minorities—considerably higher than the industry average overall.  At the smallest daily papers in the census (those with circulations under 10,000), however, only about 6% of employees were minorities.

Facts_3Women are often underrepresented in newspaper newsrooms. In 2012, women made up less than half of most ethnic groups employed at newspapers: 47% of African Americans and multiracial staffers at newspapers were women, 40% of Hispanic journalists were female, as were 38% of Native American journalists. White women were even less represented in newsrooms, accounting for 35% of all white newspaper employees. The only ethnic group in which women outnumbered men in the newsroom was Asian Americans, at 52%.

Facts_4About one-third of newsroom managers are women. According to the census, 35% of newsroom supervisors are women, as are 40% of copy and layout editors or online producers, 38% of reporters and writers and 25% of photographers, artists and videographers. These numbers have declined slightly in most categories since the data were first reported in 1998. The only category that has shown a slight increase is supervisors, which edged up from 34% to 35% since 1998.

Facts_5In the past two decades, there has been little overall change in the percentage of minorities in the newsroom. In 1977, the first year of the ASNE census, minorities accounted for only 4% of newspaper newsroom workers. By 1994, the percentage of minority journalists had nearly tripled to 11%.  Eighteen years later, however, in 2012, that figure was only about one percentage point higher, at 12%.

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Newspapers, News Media Ethics and Practices, State of the News Media

  1. is a Research Analyst at the Pew Research Center's Journalism Project.


  1. girly girl2 years ago

    Not a single word of this is true I looked it up!!! Whoever made this page should have it shut down with false statement. I am in the 7th grade and probably know more right than this guy does. I mean what is that hard to understand about genders in ethnic groups…I believe that if you don’t know what you are talking about don’t say it and especially don’t post it on the web!!!!!!!

    1. Nit-picking adult2 years ago

      To start off, good job on double checking the facts. It is always an excellent idea to double check original sources especially on the internet. Unfortunately for you, just saying you “looked it up” to back up your statement doesn’t cut it. Now seeing as you are in 7th grade, my assumption is you have not seen many people posting reasons why an article is wrong in the comments section, and to be fair, not many do. So I shall tell you why you need to back up your claim.
      1) We cannot replicate your search. We don’t know how you did it (internet or physical copies) and what words you used.
      2) And therefore we have no clue what sources you used. Did you go back to the original source or just find a different one? Is the one you found even reputable?
      3) If you did go back to the original source, did you examine the original data or the most current one? Because you are posting two years after the blog was published, the data you have maybe the 2015 census, not the 2013. Time does make a difference even by two years.
      Once again double checking sources is always a good idea when dealing with information on the internet, but claiming something is false without explaining and supporting (with your own resources) why it is, does not convince people to believe a 7th Grader over a Research Analyst.
      PS Yes I realize the chances of girly girl reading this are “never.” Who returns to a post they had written over 3 months ago (at the time of this posting)? Feel free to call me a fool, but at least you understand why I’m taking her statement with a grain of salt.

  2. Da Man4 years ago

    The problem with having so many white men in the newsroom is that 99.9% of these white mean are radical left wing extremist liberal progressive American hating democrats. Where is the diversity?

    1. Lauren Gray4 years ago

      This is a false statement — have you seen Fox News??

      The problem with this country AND with newsrooms it that the US has a VERY diverse population, but the executive suites, leadership positions and the newsroom don’t show our diversity. White males cannot and should not run everything. Diverse populations, women and other minorities bring a fresh perspective that we all need.

  3. CSnord4 years ago

    It is not about diversity. I’m a middle-aged White male and I took one look at those names and knew in less than a second that they were fake. It doesn’t take racial diversity or sensitivity training to spot such things. It takes a basic education and a willingness to read everything skeptically.

    1. Paul Harrington4 years ago

      I,m an OLD white man and I learned many moons ago its nice to be first but better to be right.
      Diversity has nothing to do with it.