From ASNE President Alfredo Carbajal: The urgency to have diverse newsrooms - participate in 2018 diversity survey

By Alfredo Carbajal.

The desire for diversity in news is an old story.

For decades, we have nodded our heads anytime we hear testimonies on how accurate and nuanced reporting translates into deeper connections with overlooked readers, viewers and listeners.
We all agree that we need to diversify our newsrooms and our news reports to maintain credibility and stay relevant (and stay in business, no less) to the eyes of an increasingly dissimilar society.
Yet sometimes we try to rationalize the lack of progress and convince ourselves that diversity is one of those abstract ideas we all aim at, though it might be impossible to achieve.
Good intentions aside, that is a defeatist attitude.
These are urgent times for journalism.
And we need to make diversity a strong pillar to sustain our journalism in an era of gratuitous opinions disguised as facts, echo chambers and yes, overt efforts to discredit honest news efforts as merely "fake news.”
We need to answer with facts and accurate reporting leading to the truth. Not only do we need to double down on our efforts to diversify our newsrooms, but also we need to accelerate our modest progress.
The 2017 ASNE Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey showed us the size of the gap that we're working to bridge. Minority journalists were 16.6 percent of the workforce in U.S. newsrooms whereas in the general population, 39 percent correspond to minorities.
At ASNE, we're partnering with several groups and institutions that are equally concerned about the gaps and "diversity news deserts," that is, the places where coverage of underrepresented communities is all but nonexistent.
Then we have newsrooms with very low representation of minority journalists on their payroll. In these places, the need for diverse news coverage has become not only that abstract "it would be nice to have it" idea, but also a conversation that has taken a back seat to other priorities.
At ASNE, we believe the pursuit of diversity in news must be relentless.
In 2012, we created the Emerging Leaders Institute to help develop future and mid-level diverse news leaders from newsrooms of all platforms and sizes. To date, we have trained more than 300 journalists, many of whom are now leading newsrooms.
This number is an answer to the often-uttered saying that goes like this: "We just can't find enough qualified minority candidates" when a leadership job opens.
Also, we have partnered with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation since 2016 and the Democracy Fund and the Google News Lab since last year to retool our diversity survey and obtain a better understanding of the data to determine achievable goals. See the 2017 survey results here.
Earlier this month, we launched the 2018 survey in partnership with the University of Virginia Department of Media Studies to broaden the scope of the diversity metrics we collect and better understand where our news media industry is falling short and where it's succeeding.
We applaud efforts by several news institutions, such as the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, ProPublica, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, who have demonstrated their commitment to producing journalism that properly represents all segments of society.
I'm inviting all newsroom leaders to participate in the 2018 survey and support the idea of achieving a more accurate and representative news report across America.
These are, indeed, urgent times, and diverse communities demand and expect to be included in our journalism. If we do it, then we'll find a path to greater relevancy and sustainability. If we leave diverse coverage on the side, then we'll soon find our coverage misguided, inaccurate and out of step with the communities we cover.
Many have said this: Diversity in news is not only the right and ethical thing to embrace as journalists, but also it is the smart thing to do for our newsrooms and institutions.
Please take the time to complete the survey as soon as possible. Organizations that have not received a link to the survey should reach out to ASNE at