2013 Census

Total employment declines in 2012, but proportion of minorities in newsrooms remains stable 

Posted 6/25/2013 08:42:00 PM 
Ken Fleming, Center for Advanced Social Research, RJI, flemingk@missouri.edu

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Total newsroom employment declined by 6.4 percent in 2012 while the proportion of minorities in newsrooms remained about even, according to the annual census released today by the American Society of News Editors and the Center for Advanced Social Research. 

There are about 38,000 full-time daily newspaper journalists at nearly 1,400 newspapers in the United States. That's a 2,600-person decrease from last year's 40,600. Of the 38,000 employees, about 4,700 or 12.37 percent are racial minorities; the percentage of minority employees has consistently hovered between 12 and 13 percent for more than a decade. 

ASNE, which has conducted its Newsroom Employment Census of professional full-time journalists since 1978, announced the results Tuesday in Washington, D.C., during its annual convention.

This is the second year that CASR, a unit of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, joined forces with ASNE to collect and analyze the data. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation provided all of the funding for the year's census.

Although there was an overall decrease in journalists, the two largest newspaper categories experienced slight increases. Employees at newspapers with daily circulations of more than 500,000 increased by 0.20 percent. Newspapers with circulations ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 had a 5.71 percent increase in of overall employees and a 3.58 percent increase in minorities. 
All other circulation categories saw decreases in overall employees:
  • 100,000-250,000 had a 9.61 percent decrease
  • 50,000-100,000 had an 8.24 percent decrease
  • 25,000-50,000 had a 7.80 percent decrease
  • 10,000-25,000 had a 4.86 percent decrease
  • 5,000-10,000 had a 7.09 percent decrease
  • Fewer than 5,000 had a 9.15 percent decrease

The decrease in journalists in 2012 compares to the 5,900-journalist decrease in 2008-2009 and the 5,200-journalist decrease in 2009-2010. There was an increase of 100 journalists in 2010-2011. The continued trend is a loss of overall jobs and a lack of growth in the proportion of minorities in the newsroom. 

Newsrooms also continue to be about two-thirds male, another trend that has been consistent for years. The 12.37 percent of minorities in the newsroom is consistent with the 12.32 percent of 2011. The highest level was 13.73 percent in 2006. In 1978 the number was 3.95 percent. 

ASNE's goal is to have the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide to reflect the percentage of minorities in the nation's population by 2025. Currently, minorities make up 37.02 percent of the U.S. population; that number will increase to 42.39 percent by 2025, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 
"It's terribly disappointing to learn that diversity in newsrooms remains stagnant despite the rapidly changing landscape of America," said Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news at the Democrat and Chronicle Media Group, Rochester, and co-chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee. "If we are to accurately reflect and authentically cover the communities we serve, we must do much better as an industry or we risk becoming irrelevant to news consumers of the future."

The census is a tool to measure the success of this goal. It provides a baseline. During the past year, the ASNE Diversity Committee also created the ASNE Minority Leadership Institute. The goals of the institute are to train and develop up-and-coming mid-level newsroom leaders and connect them with a network of established ASNE leaders. The first institute was held at the UNITY convention last August, and the second was conducted Sunday and Monday just before the ASNE Convention.

The ASNE Diversity Committee also is creating a partnership with Journalism That Matters, an evolving collaboration of individuals supporting the pioneers who are shaping the emerging news and information ecosystem. The partnership aims to optimize the talents of both organizations to develop new ways for journalists to engage diverse communities and meet evolving news and information needs. 

"We all know that being diverse, inclusive and accurate is not just our obligation as journalists, but also a smart business survival imperative," said Alfredo Carbajal, managing editor of Al Día, Dallas Morning News, and co-chair of the ASNE Diversity Committee. "At ASNE we believe that one of the ways to contribute to the important crusade for greater diversity is to help train minority journalists and get them ready to lead news organizations that are increasingly coping with audience fragmentation and complex new layers of diversity."

Although the newsroom census continues to show that the percentage of minority newsroom employment is far lower than the percentage of minorities in the markets where those newsrooms are located, there are some success stories. ASNE will partner with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri to take a closer look at where and how those success stories are occurring in the coming year. 

"I'm sure that these numbers -- both the continued job losses and the stall-out of progress on diversity -- are very disappointing to ASNE. But credit to the organization, its collaborators and funders for going ahead with the census and publishing the results," said Rick Edmonds, media business analyst and leader of news transformation at the Poynter Institute. "We need to know where we stand."  
Census procedures


For this latest census, 978 out of 1,382 daily print newspapers responded to the survey, representing 70.8 percent of all U.S. dailies. The level of participation is similar to last year and is about 10 percentage points higher than previous years.

The data from newspapers that returned the survey are used to project the numbers for non-responding newspapers in the same circulation range. An ASNE follow-up test of non-responding newspapers found their employment of minorities closely resembles newspapers in their circulation categories that respond to the survey. 

The survey figures reported above are weighted in this way to reflect all daily newspapers. CASR implemented internal monitoring procedures to ensure the consistency and credibility of the employment data, including verifying responses that differed significantly from the last census. The procedures used by CASR mirror those used by ASNE in past years, and because of this constancy, the ASNE census provides highly reliable year-to-year comparisons.

Editors participating in the survey agree to publish the percentage of newsroom employees who are minorities. In 2006, the ASNE Board of Directors also agreed to list the percentage for each minority group at each newspaper. A list of newspapers with their percentages follows the summary and tables.

ASNE's diversity mission


Increasing diversity in U.S. newsrooms has been a primary ASNE mission since 1978. ASNE is an industry leader in helping news organizations better reflect their communities. ASNE's initial survey in 1978, when there were more than 1,700 general circulation daily newspapers, revealed that minority journalists comprised 3.95 percent of the total newsroom workforce. The survey is a tool ASNE uses to measure the success of its goal of having the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide reflect the percentage of minorities in the nation's population by 2025. 

About the Center for Advanced Social Research


The Center for Advanced Social Research is the research arm of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute housed in the Missouri School of Journalism of the University of Missouri. It provides quality survey research services to news media organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, national foundations and community organizations.

About the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute works with citizens, journalists and researchers to strengthen democracy through better journalism. RJI seeks out the most exciting new ideas, tests them with real-world experiments, uses social science research to assess their effectiveness, and delivers solutions that citizens and journalists can put to use in their own communities. The institute was created with an initial gift of $31 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in 2004.

About the Missouri School of Journalism


America's first school of journalism was founded at the University of Missouri in 1908. Some of the best journalists in the world have learned their profession through what is known as "the Missouri Method," which provides practical, hands-on training in news media. The School of Journalism also houses the headquarters of other professional organizations, including Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., the Association of Health Care Journalists and the National Freedom of Information Coalition.

About the Robert R. McCormick Foundation 


The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is committed to fostering communities of educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic programs, Cantigny Park and museums, the Foundation helps develop citizen leaders and works to make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is one of the nation's largest foundations, with more than $1 billion in assets.

About the American Society of News Editors


The American Society of News Editors focuses on leadership development and journalism-related issues. Founded in 1922 as a nonprofit professional organization, ASNE promotes fair, principled journalism, defends and protects First Amendment rights, and fights for freedom of information and open government. Leadership, innovation, diversity and inclusion in coverage and the journalism workforce, youth journalism and the sharing of ideas are also key ASNE initiatives.


Contact: (573) 882-9854