ASNE to issue comprehensive report on diversity in news

The American Society of News Editors on Monday will release its comprehensive report on the future on diversity in the news during the ASNE Annual Convention. The Ford Foundation funded the research and report.

For Immediate Release 

March 30, 2012 

RESTON, Va. -- The American Society of News Editors on Monday will release its comprehensive report on the future on diversity in the news during the ASNE Annual Convention. The Ford Foundation funded the research and report. 

News diversity remains a major challenge and is a 21st century imperative, according to “The Future of Diversity in the News,” a 56-page report which drew upon conferences and industry interviews and research since July 2011. 

The report stresses the need for minority staffing, training, retention and advancement and the importance of news diversity to support a business model. It also examines future opportunities for increasing news diversity by engaging in creative ways to deliver fresh content and reach new audiences. 

“We are at a crossroads in our industry,” said Karen Magnuson, co-chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee and editor/vice president of News for The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “We must embrace diversity as a business imperative to accurately reflect the populations we serve and offer content that is relevant and useful. It is a critical key to our survival.” 

Legacy newsrooms continue to downsize and struggle to reflect the populations they serve, the report states. 

“More and more minority journalists are leaving the news business – some by chance, others by choice,” Milton Coleman, ASNE past president, current president of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and senior editor, The Washington Post says in the foreword of the report. “Organizations fear that progress on many fronts is in full retreat. Yesterday's goals, unfortunately, were never reached, and tomorrow's are even higher.” 

Bright signs for the future are reflected in the promising growth in small digital operations and niche start-ups, particularly those aimed at minority communities, according to the report. The innovative spirit of young journalists of color and their social media savvy could bode well for this generation. 

The report, which is funded by the Ford Foundation, includes videos, strategies for mobile audiences, an exploration of new business models, diversity success stories, a look back at diversity since the Kerner Commission report and voices from the new media generation. The report was written by Aly Colón, an ASNE consultant and a former Reporting, Writing & Editing Group Leader and Director of Diversity Programs at the Poynter Institute. 

“The diversity report should serve as impetus to renew our commitment to ensuring all of America's communities are covered accurately and thoroughly through media members of all ethnicities with understanding of this country's rapid population changes,” said Ronnie Agnew, executive director, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and co-chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee. “If we continue on this path, I am concerned that America will hear from only one voice. This report is a blueprint for how we must proceed to secure our future. Our industry has reached a critical point that either we choose to address or ignore.” 

Some of the content for the report was developed during two, two-day Leadership in Diversity conferences held in Orlando in June and in New York in September. The sessions, coordinated by ASNE, were funded by the Gannett Foundation, McCormick Foundation, the Philip L. Graham Fund and The New York Times. 

The report will be released during a press availability at 5:30 p.m. ET on Monday at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. ASNE and Newspaper Association of America attendees will receive an executive summary of the report. The full report will be available online Monday. The report also will be spotlighted during ASNE's convention diversity segments. 

See the report on the future of diversity in the news.