ASNE diversity history

February 1968

The Presidential Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission) issues its report after a seven-month study. It warns that the nation is moving toward two separate societies — one black and the other white. The commission also found, “The journalists profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training and promoting Negroes. ...”


ASNE president Eugene Patterson, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, appoints ASNE’s first Minorities Committee.


The first chair of the Minorities Committee, Richard Smyser, of the Oak Ridger, Oak Ridge, Tenn., makes five recommendations to the ASNE board:

  1. The commitment to recruit, train and hire minorities needs urgently to be rekindled. This is simply the right thing to do. It is also in the newspaper industry’s economic self-interest.
  2. There should be at least an annual accounting by ASNE of minority employment, including not just total jobs but types of positions held.
  3. There should be special emphasis on increasing the number of minority newsroom executives.
  4. Small papers should especially be encouraged to add minority members to their staffs.
  5. Leaders among minority journalists have urge the industry to set a goal of minority employment by the year 2000 equivalent to the percentage of minority persons within the national population. The committee believes this is a fair and attainable goal.

At the board meeting, John C. Quinn (who later served as ASNE president in 1982-83) suggested strengthening the committee recommendations by having ASNE pledge to try to achieve the minority percentage in newsrooms equal to the minority proportion of the total population before the year 2000 suggested in the committee report. The board then adopted the committee report.

October 1998

After more than a year of discussions sparked by the realization that the industry will fall far short of the 2000 goal, the ASNE board in October adopts a new goal. The new goal seeks parity by 2025 or sooner and calls for creating a series of three-year benchmarks to help the industry better track its progress.

September 1999

Board adopts benchmarks for minority employment, interns, supervisors, reducing the number of newspapers with no minorities on staff, reporting number of newspapers that have achieve parity with their community. The benchmarks will be reported for the first time in 2003.

September 2000

Board agrees that retention is a major factor in increasing the number of minority journalists. Board votes to include retention figures for minority and nonminorities in the report of the annual newsroom census.