Hard News

Fewer African American journalists are in the newsroom

As the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) hosts its 27th annual Conference and Career Fair, scheduled for July 31–Aug. 4 in Milwaukee, black journalists are finding that they’re fewer in number. Yet, the percentage of minority representation in the newsroom raised slightly, according to a report released in April by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), an organization of daily newspaper editors.

The number of black journalists declined slightly to 2,879 at the beginning of 2002, from 2,951 in 2001, according to the newsroom employment census, which surveyed 66.62% of all U.S. dailies. The gain in the percentage of black journalists (5.29% in 2002 vs. 5.23% in 2001) is because most of the workforce cuts came from higher-paid white journalists as newspapers offered buyout packages, according to the ASNE. Nearly 2,000 journalists (copy-layout editors, reporters, and photographers) left the newspaper industry.

Asian Americans in the newsroom totaled 1,283, or 2.36%; Hispanics numbered 2,098, or 3.86%; and Native Americans accounted for 307, or 0.56%; at the beginning of the year.

Overall, the number of minority journalists working at daily newspapers rose slightly to 6,600, or 12.07%, of the 54,400 journalists surveyed at the beginning of 2002. This is a scant 0.42% increase from 11.65% of 56,400 journalists in 2001.

Some journalists believe that declines in minority representation mean certain communities and issues don’t get the coverage they deserve. One issue is that many newspaper publishers are not putting forth enough effort to have a diverse workforce. “Our newspapers should be as diverse as the communities they serve,” says Bryan Monroe, deputy managing editor at the San Jose Mercury News and vice president for the NABJ. “The reality is that we’re not yet doing that.”

Source: American Society of Newspaper Editors

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