The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) conducted a survey this year that found that newsrooms have encountered the biggest loss of jobs in 30 years and that the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms is still disproportionate to the larger workforce.
The survey found:
- U.S. daily newsrooms shrank by 2,400 journalists in the past year, a "4.4% workforce decrease that's the biggest year-over-year cut in ranks since ASNE began conducting its annual census 30 years ago.
- 52,600 people work full-time in daily newspaper newsrooms. 1984 was the last time that number has been so low at 50,400, of whom 5.75% were journalists of racial or ethnic minorities.
- Nearly 300 fewer journalists of color are working in newsrooms than this time last year.
- But due to the layoffs and hiring freezes, the percentage of journalists of color in daily newsrooms actually grew by a tiny margin, to 13.52% from 13.43% of all journalists.
- "The largest number and percentage of journalists of color are black, with 2,790 or 5.3% of the workforce."
- There are 2,346 Hispanic journalists, 4.5% of newsrooms.
- Asian Americans are 3.2% of newsrooms at 1,692 journalists.
- Native Americans are the smallest minority group: 284 journalists or 0.5% of newsroom employees.
- Men still outnumber women in the daily newsroom by a 63% to 37% margin.
- Minority journalists are more likely to be reporters. Only 11.4% of supervisors are journalists of color.
In 1978, ASNE proposed an industry-wide goal of matching the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms with the percentage in the population large by 2000, which fell short. Its new goal is 2025, though with the current waves of layoffs, this goal may also be hard to attain.
Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc. declared that "the parity goal is effectively dead" and instead, they would focus on creating more diversity from the top by increasing the numbers of minority senior newsroom managers.
"The numbers represent a dual reality: It's mildly encouraging that the minority percentage held steady despite difficult economic times that are causing many cutbacks," ASNE president and editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Gilbert Bailon said. "On the other hand, the total number of minority journalists employed at daily newspapers declined by nearly 300 people, which follows the pattern for the overall newsroom workforce. Such a trend will not help newspapers in their quest to reach parity with the minority population by 2025."
Also, in its annual conference this week, ASNE gave members in Washington, D.C. directions for lobbying Congress, specifically about the Federal Shield Law. The editor's group provided Web site information, background material, and tips on ways to track down individual legislators to make such lobbying easier, including new documents on the ASNE Free Flow of Information Act page.
David Boardman, editor of The Seattle Times, said "editors are not usually in the lobbying business, but agreed it is an issue so important that it deserved extra attention: Advocacy in support of the First Amendment is entirely acceptable."