2005 census

News staffs shrinking while minority presence grows

Posted 4/5/2005 11:18:00 PM

WASHINGTON — The numberof full-time journalists working at daily newspapers continues to fall whilethe numberof minorityjournalistsinched up nearlya half of a percentage point to 13.42 percent in 2004. Since the economicdownturn of 2001, newsrooms have lost a net of more than 2,200 journalistswhile thenumber of minority journalists has increased.

These are among the key findings from the 28th annual newsroom census of theAmerican Society of Newspaper Editors, which also revealed that 2004 markedthe second straight year of an overall decline in newsroom professionals.Major reasons for this slippage were buyouts and layoffs at some of the nation’slargest newspapers.

Minorities had a net increase of 700 since 2001 resulting in a nearly halfof one percentage point increase for the fourth straight year. Asians leadthis increase but all minority groups saw growth.

Editors are increasing their hiring and retention of minority journalistsat a time when diversity in the U.S. grows at historic rates. But newsroomsare not changing quickly enough for the industry to achieve its goal of parityof newsrooms with their communities by 2025.

From 2001-2005:

  • Overall staffing in newsrooms tumbled from an estimated 56,393 to 54,134 today — a four percent decline.
  • Numbers of white men fell the most, decreasing by a net 1,744 or 5.5 percent. The number of white women declined 1,230 or 6.8 percent.
  • Newsrooms added a net of 365 Asians, 259 Latinos but only 46 Native Americans and 34 African Americans.
  • Newsrooms lost nearly 1,000 reporters, nearly 600 editors, nearly 300 photographers and artists and just over 400 copy editors, as top editors and publishers in large and small papers reduced staffs to weather the anemic economy.

“It is always good to go forward especially at a time when demographicchange is such a powerful factor in our communities,” said ASNE presidentKarla Garrett Harshaw. “Because of those changes, we need to measureour progress by full percentage points, and not fractions. We simply must movemore urgently. It can be done."

Milton Coleman, chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee said, “Therainbow of newsroom diversity has become so much richer, with the increasesamongAsians, Hispanics and Native Americans. This is good. At the same time, thetrend amongblack journalists is increasingly worrisome, as the numbers have grown onlymarginally. The trend is disturbing. We need to figure out what's going wrongand address it immediately.”

Highlights of the 2005 survey:

  • Supervisors: Minorities account for 10.8 percent of all supervisors in newsrooms.Twenty percent of all minorities are supervisors, the same as last year anda one percentage point increase since 2001.
  • Newspapers with no minorities: The number of newspapers responding to theASNE survey with no minorities fell to 347. That means that slightly more than60 percent of daily newspapers responding to the survey have minority staffers.The majority of the newspapers with no minority professionals have circulationsof 10,000 or less and serve small communities. The number of newspapers respondingto the survey with no minorities stood at 422 five years ago.
  • Where do minorities work: Since 2000, the percentage of minorities workingat the country’s largest newspapers, those exceeding 500,000 circulation,has remained virtually unchanged and now stands at 18.4. Since 2000, thepercentage of minorities working at newspapers from 250,001 to 500,000 hasgrown from 18.3 percent to 20.7 and those at newspapers from 100,001 to 250,000has grown from 13.6 to 15.8 percent.

Other findings:

  • Internships: The number ofminority interns increased by nearly a hundred to 948 or 33.2 percent ofall interns hired in Summer 2004. This is the largest number of minority interns since 2001.
  • Women: The percentage of women in daily newsrooms increased slightly to 37.54percent. This percentage has gone up and down since 2001 when women made up37.35 of newsroom professionals.
    Minority women account for 17.20 percent, up from 16.27 percent, of the womenjournalists in newsrooms last year. Five years ago, minority women represented14.28 percent of newsroom journalists.
  • Men: Men now total 33,814 a net decrease of 203 from last year. Minority mennumber 3,783 up from 3,733 last year. Five years ago, minority men numbered3,555 and represented 6.03 percent of newsroom journalists.
  • Job categories: 65.2 percent of all supervisors are men. They are also 58.8percent of all copy editors, 60.1 percent of reporters and 72.6 percent ofphotographers.

ASNE’s Diversity Mission

Increasing diversity in U.S. newspaper newsrooms has been aprimary ASNE mission since 1978. The Society has been an industry leaderin helping newspapers betterreflect their communities. It serves as an information clearinghouse and providescareer information to aspiring journalists. The Society sponsors and coordinatesa variety of initiatives and projects, including job fairs directed at youngjournalists of color and seminars for editors on the changing demographicsof the U.S.

ASNE’s initial survey in 1978 revealed that minorityjournalists comprised 3.95 percent of the total newsroom workforce (1,700out of 43,000).The surveyis a tool ASNE uses to measure the success of its goal of having the percentageof minorities working in newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage ofminorities in the nation’s population by 2025. Currently minoritiesmake up 31.7 percent of the U.S. population.


For the 2005 ASNE newsroom employment census, 926 of the 1,413 daily newspapersresponded to the survey, representing 65.53 percent of all U.S. dailies. Thecensus is based on employment data reported by daily newspapers.

The survey data are projected to reflect all daily newspapers in the country.Editors participating in the survey agree 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 thenumbers for nonresponding newspapers in the same circulation range. An ASNEfollow-up test of nonresponding newspapers found their employment of minoritiesclosely resembles 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 about 750 members, is an organization of the main editors of daily newspapersthroughout the Americas. Founded in1922, ASNE is active in a number of areas of interest to top editors withpriorities on improving the diversity, readership and credibility of newspapers.

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