ASNE releases 2016 Diversity Survey results

Columbia, Mo. (Sept.9, 2016) -- Minority journalists comprised 17 percent of the workforce in newsrooms that responded to this year's ASNE Diversity Survey.
The annual survey also found that 28 percent of the news organizations reported having at least one minority journalist among their top three editors and 77 percent reported having at least one woman in a top-three position.

The results summarize responses from 737 news organizations, including 646 newspapers and 91 digital-only news sites.
Year over year comparisons to 2015 results are difficult to make because last year's survey drew responses from fewer sites. However, a comparison of 433 news organizations that participated in both the 2015 and 2016 surveys showed the minority workforce increased 5.6 percent. That gain appears to be driven by large-circulation newspapers and online-only sites, said Adam Maksl, an assistant professor at Indiana University Southeast, who has directed the survey for the past four years.
"Those papers, with 100K-plus circulation, and online sites employ many more minority journalists than smaller organizations, so better minority recruitment and retention at those places is easily going to drive overall increases in minorities in the workforce," Maksl said.
The information from the 433 organizations surveyed in both years showed that some newsrooms added more journalists of color than white employees. Others lost both white and minority employees but lost more whites. For example, 20 newspapers with circulations between 50K and 100K lost an average of 22 percent of their white employees but only 5 percent of their minority employees. Among eight newspapers with the very largest circulations (500K+), the average loss of white employees from one year to the next was 12 percent, whereas the average gain of minority employees was 4 percent.
Other highlights of the survey showed:
- In 2016, minorities comprised about 17 percent of employees at daily newspapers and 23 percent at online-only sites. The percent of journalists of color was still greatest at the largest news organizations. For example, at newspapers with daily circulations of 500K and above, nearly a quarter of the average workforce was made up of minorities. The average newsroom workforce at all 737 legacy and digital sites was about 11 percent minority. 
- Women made up about a third of newsroom employees overall, with a higher number employed at online-only sites than at newspapers. Women comprised 38 percent of daily newspaper employees in this year's survey and nearly 50 percent of online-only news organization employees.
- Women were the majority of the workforce at 37 percent of the online sites and at 14 percent of the daily newspapers.
- Of all supervisors, about 13 percent were minorities and 37 percent women.
"The numbers seem to be moving in the right direction, but the pace of diversity needs to quicken to catch up with the population," said ASNE President Pam Fine. "We must ask ourselves how we can do a better job of inspiring people of color and women to go into the profession, hire them at good wages, and give them opportunities to influence coverage and advance through the ranks. The purpose of the ASNE survey is to stimulate these efforts. It's one of the ways ASNE champions diversity in newsrooms and in leadership."
In 2012, the ASNE Diversity Committee created the Minority Leadership Institute to train and develop up-and-coming, mid-level newsroom leaders and connect them with a network of established ASNE leaders. This year, ASNE rebranded the program as the Emerging Leaders Institute to include all emerging leaders with diverse backgrounds. ASNE has hosted 12 institutes since the first one in 2012. 
ASNE plans to host four institutes in 2017, which will take place at Loyola University Chicago; the National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair in New Orleans; the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference in Anaheim, California; and the ASNE-APME News Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
About the ASNE survey
Since its inception in 1978, ASNE's diversity research has revealed the degree to which newspapers, and more lately online-only news sites, reflect the public they aim to serve. Over the years, the survey has been revised to maintain its relevance as a useful and aspirational benchmark for racial and gender diversity.
In 1998, ASNE began to ask for the numbers of women employed in newsrooms. Until then, the research tracked only employment and general job categories for black, Asian American, Hispanic and Native American employees.
In 2014, the survey began asking for the number of women and people of color in top newsroom leadership positions.
This year, we made two notable changes.
First, we no longer estimate the number of journalists working in newsrooms. Previously, ASNE survey results included a projection for the number of journalists working in newsrooms based on what for years were relatively standard employment levels. Today, the structure of modern newsrooms makes it impractical and error-prone to try to estimate the number of working journalists.
As we have seen over the past few years, layoffs, buyouts and restructuring are a norm and not an isolated event in the news industry, so the ASNE result is based only on the newsrooms that replied to the survey. This year, as noted above, we made direct comparisons of hundreds of organizations that regularly respond, which further support the reliability of the results.
A second major change is that we did not ask news organizations to classify employees by job category. Editors have told us this change was needed because roles and titles are continually transforming. We did continue to ask separate questions about newsroom supervisors and top leaders so we can track diversity among decision-makers.
The John S. and James L Knight Foundation provided the funding for this year's survey research, which was directed by Adam Maksl, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism at Indiana University Southeast. The research team at the School of Communication and Journalism at Florida International University, led by Yu Liu, Ph.D., the school's assistant professor, administered the questionnaire and collected the data.

About the American Society of News Editors
The American Society of News Editors focuses on leadership development and journalism-related issues. Founded in 1922 as a nonprofit professional organization, ASNE promotes fair, principled journalism; defends and protects First Amendment rights; and fights for freedom of information and open government. Leadership, innovation, diversity and inclusion in coverage and the journalism workforce, opinion journalism, news literacy and the sharing of ideas are also key ASNE initiatives. Learn more at, or follow us on Twitter @NewsEditors