April 14, 2008
NAHJ Disturbed by Figures that Mask Decline in Newsroom Diversity
Urges News Industry to Focus on Retention, Management to Temper the Loss
Media contact: Iván Román, NAHJ Executive Director, (202) 662-7178
Washington, D.C. – With more journalists of color leaving than entering the country’s newsrooms in 2007, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists believes the news industry must focus on retention and management to reverse this disturbing development.
The 2008 newsroom census released Sunday by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) shows that the percentage of minority journalists working at daily newspapers actually grew from 13.43 percent to 13.52 percent of the 52,600 total newsroom workforce.
But major retrenchment in newsrooms contributed to keeping that percentage steady. Buyouts and layoffs pushed some 2,400 newspaper journalists out the door in 2007, including 697 journalists of color. The 392 journalists of color hired for their first full-time newsroom job helped temper the decline.
However, last year marked only the second time since 1986 that recruitment of journalists of color did not replace or surpass those who left, upsetting the traditional balance of newsrooms’ revolving door that kept minority representation flat for years.
Though it seems like ASNE’s goal of reaching newsroom parity with the overall population of people of color in the country by 2025 is out of reach, NAHJ believes that it’s time to redouble diversity efforts and focus on retention and increasing representation in management as a way to truly make an impact.
"We are not giving up, not by a longshot." said NAHJ President Rafael Olmeda. "Rather, we are sounding an alarm. If the newspaper industry is serious about parity as a goal, the time to act is now. With newsroom recruitment shrinking, the commitment to diversity needs to be at the forefront of the remaining recruitment and all retention efforts.”
NAHJ challenged the industry to double the number of Latinos working in newsrooms between 2002 and 2007. NAHJ launched the Parity Project in newsrooms with the largest gaps between the size of the Latino community and the number of Latino journalists and proved that when commitment matches rhetoric, real measurable progress can be achieved.
Despite last year’s newsroom staffing cuts and high turnover rates, all except two of the project’s 24 media company partners still maintained a net gain of Latinos on staff compared to when they came on board, some as far back as 2003.
Although the numbers of all the various groups of journalists of color declined in 2007, there were still more Asian American and Hispanic journalists in newsrooms last year than in 2002 while the gains for black and Native American journalists during the same time period have been erased. NAHJ believes the Parity Project, established in April 2003, has contributed to keeping those gains on the plus side.
NAHJ endorses UNITY's call to the industry to focus its diversity commitment on the senior management level.
“Diversity needs to be on every organization’s mind when decisions are made about the size and shape of each newsroom,” Olmeda added. “And a concerted effort must be made to increase the number of Latinos and other people of color at every level of management, starting at the top."
Of the 1,700 journalists working full time for their newspaper’s online operations, according to ASNE’s survey, 17.79 percent were people of color, a higher percentage than the overall diversity figures.
As newsroom change and multimedia skills become more and more essential for all journalists, training staffers to work across media platforms is a way to increase retention. NAHJ calls on the news industry to provide the necessary training to slow the revolving door. NAHJ stands ready to partner with media companies and the news industry to help prepare Latino journalists for the future.
Read the ASNE Newsroom Census
UNITY press release
Newsrooms Losing Color: Outflow Outstripping Newcomers
Founded in 1984, NAHJ's mission is to increase the percentage of Latinos working in our nation's newsrooms and to improve news coverage of the Latino community. NAHJ is the nation's largest professional organization for Latino journalists with more than 2,300 members working in English and Spanish-language print, photo, broadcast and online media. NAHJ is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.nahj.org.