1999 census

ASNE Newsroom Census: Minority employment inches up at daily newspapers

Posted 3/22/1999 5:57:00 PM

SAN FRANCISCO -- The number of minority journalists working at daily newspaperscrept up only slightly in 1998, increasing 1.5 percent. Asian, black, Hispanicand Native American journalists now comprise 11.55 percent of newsroom employees,compared to 11.46 percent the previous year, according to the 1999 newsroomemployment survey issued by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

In that same study, ASNE counted women for the first time and found that theycomprise 36.88 percent of the newsroom staffs of daily papers. Some 34 percentof newsroom supervisors are women.

According to the 1999 ASNE survey, the newsroom work force grew to 55,100 in1998, up from 54,700. The number of minority journalists working at the nation’sdailies rose slightly to 6,365, from 6,270 last year and 6,100 in the previousyear. During the year, the number of minority employees grew a little fasterthan non-minorities: Minorities increased by 1.5 percent while whites grew by0.6 percent.

"We wish that the number of minorities in newsrooms had increased more," saidASNE president Edward L. Seaton who is also editor-in-chief of The Manhattan(Kan.) Mercury. "Newspapers can’t do business as usual any more if they hopeto present an accurate report of the increasingly diverse communities they serve.It will take unprecedented urgency, money, commitment, coordination and advocacy.To get this done, we need the good help of top leaders in the newsroom as wellas industry groups, minority journalist organizations and educators. ASNE isprepared to lead the way, with new initiatives and a renewed sense of urgency."

The 21st annual ASNE newsroom employment census tracks overall newsroomemployment and the representation of minority journalists. When the annual censusstarted in 1978, minority journalists were 4 percent of the total newsroom workforce (1,700 of 43,000).

Over the past two decades significant growth in the representation of minorityjournalists has been achieved, although the yearly gains have been small. From1978 to 1999, minority employment has grown 276 percent while white employmentduring the same period increased 17 percent.

Other findings of the 1999 newsroom employment survey:

  • Racial/ethnic groups: Asian American journalists comprise 2.29 percent of all the journalists in newsrooms (totaling 1,265); blacks: 5.36 percent (totaling 2,955); Hispanics: 3.46 (totaling 1,905), and Native Americans: 0.44 percent (totaling 240). The number of Asian American journalists rose in 1998 while the number of blacks, Hispanics and Native American journalists remained virtually unchanged.
  • Internships and first-time hires: The number of minority interns and first-time hires basically remained unchanged, although the overall percentages declined. Of the interns hired in 1998, 31.3 percent were minorities, compared to 33.3 percent the previous year. The highest proportion of interns was in 1991, at 39.6 percent. The percentage of first-time full-time hires who are minorities fell to 18.7 from 21.5 percent last year.
  • Newspapers with no minorities: The number of newspapers employing no minorities continues to decline. Of the newspapers participating in the survey, 40 percent had no minority staffers compared to 42 percent last year.
  • Supervisors: Nine percent of all supervisors were minorities, while nearly 20 percent of all minorities working in newsrooms were supervisors. Meanwhile, 91 percent of all supervisors were white, while 25 percent of all whites in newsrooms were supervisors.
  • Circulation: The majority of minority journalists continue to be clustered at large papers. Sixty-three percent of minority newspaper journalists work at papers of more than 100,000 circulation.


Highlights from the survey of women

  • Women on daily newspaper staffs total 20,325 of which 2,920 are minorities or 14 percent.
  • Job categories: 22 percent of the women in newsrooms are supervisors while 21 percent are copy editors, 49 percent reporters and 8 percent photographers. As for men: 25 percent are supervisors, 18 percent are copy editors, 44 percent reporters and 13 percent photographers.
  • Circulation categories: Women tend to be about 40 percent of newsroom staffs in both large and small newspapers. Women are more often found in papers with less than 10,000 circulation. Here women are 43 percent of the staffs.
  • Of the newspapers participating in the survey, 2.3 percent had no women newsroom staffers. These are all newspapers with a circulation of 10,000 or less.

In a mission statement that ASNE adopted last fall, ASNE’s board challengednewspapers to improve minority hiring and retention so that newsrooms wouldreflect the general population by 2025 or earlier. The Society calls for benchmarksto check progress in three-year increments.

The new mission statement came 20 years after ASNE set the Year 2000 goal,which challenged newspapers to achieve diversity in their newsrooms equivalentto the U.S. minority population by the year 2000 or sooner. Currently, minoritiesrepresent about 26 percent of the total population, according to the U.S. Census.

Increasing diversity in U.S. newspaper newsrooms has been a primary ASNE missionfor the past 20 years. The Society has been an industry leader in helping newspapersbetter reflect their communities. It serves as an information clearinghouseand provides career information to journalists just starting out. The Societysponsors a variety of initiatives and projects, including job fairs and journalismshort courses, which are directed at young journalists of color. About $370,000is channeled each year into ASNE’s newsroom diversity effort, by far the largestof the Society’s projects.

Census procedures

For the 1999 ASNE newsroom employment census, 958 of 1,456 daily newspapersresponded to the survey, representing 65.8 percent of all U.S. dailies. The1999 census is based on employment data reported by daily newspapers as of Jan.1, 1999.

The survey data are projected to reflect all daily newspapers in the country.Editors participating in the survey agreed to publish the percentage of newsroomemployees who are minorities. A list of newspapers with their percentages followsthe summary and tables.

The data from newspapers that returned the survey are used to project the numbersfor non-responding newspapers in the same circulation range. In the past, ASNEhas resurveyed non-responding newspapers and found their employment of minoritiesclosely resemble newspapers in their circulation categories that respond tothe survey. The survey figures reported above are weighted in this way to reflectall daily newspapers. ASNE has implemented internal monitoring procedures toensure the consistency and credibility of the employment data. Moreover, becausethe survey procedures remain constant each year, the ASNE census provides highlyreliable year-to-year comparisons.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors, with 900 members, is an organizationof the main editors of daily newspapers in the Americas. Founded in 1922, ASNE’sprincipal purpose is to serve as a medium for exchange of ideas and the professionalgrowth and development of its members.