Newsrooms Are Filled with So Many White Men. So Many.


The word is in from the American Society of News Editors’ latest study, and it’s not good if you value news from a variety of experiences and perspectives. Primarily, any experience or perspective that isn’t that of a white man.

According to The Atlantic, while non-whites make up roughly 37 percent of the U.S. population, the numbers in newsrooms have fallen from from a 13.73 percent high in 2006 to just 12.37 percent today. Add that to the fact that 90 percent of newsroom supervisors from participating news organizations were white, and the picture is grim.

There’s plenty of reasons this is happening — including that more senior positions are often the only ones that remain when layoffs come calling, and those are almost always old white men. Another thing is that minorities were disproportionately likely to take buyouts offered when newspapers were cutting back, with Keith Woods, vice president for diversity in news and operations at NPR and former dean of faculty at the Poynter Institute saying it’s because they’re more “inclined to get out because they’ve got families to support, bills to pay.”

Whatever the reasons, the picture it paints is undeniably grim.

The result is that Dori Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, says she has watched journalists of color leave newsrooms at an alarming rate, even as the audience consuming news has grown more diverse. “The news media and the nation are moving in two different directions,” she says. “News media is getting whiter as the country is getting browner.” Journalists of color “feel their voice is not heard, their story ideas are not validated, and they don’t see room for advancement.”

Here’s hoping this is something newsrooms across America focus on — because it’s not just the “nice thing to do” — it makes for better papers. People want to read about the things that affect their lives, and as we become more diverse, so must the people who tell our stories.


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