A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Diversity In-Brief

By Quill


The number of women appearing on the Big Three network evening newscasts is dropping, according to a new survey.

During 2001, 29 percent of the correspondents on the evening newscasts were women, down from 33 percent the previous year, The New York Post reported.

“It’s discouraging to see three years of backward movement for women and hardly any forward movement for minorities after such impressive, double-digit gains during the ‘90s,” said Joe Foote, director of the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.

Using visibility statistics selected by the Vanderbilt Television Archive Web site, Foote calculated the appearances of each correspondent reporting at least five times during a calendar year, with anchors not being counted.

Foote said that focusing on the evening newscasts could skew the results, because the newsmagazines offer more exposure and more diverse lineups. But he added that being a correspondent on the evening newscasts is still a key role.

The study showed that NBC’s Anne Thompson was the only woman to make the top 10, landing at No. 9.

The number of minorities on the air rose 1 percent, from 15 to 16 percent of the correspondent corps, although appearances by African-American correspondents declined in 2001 to just 10 percent of the corps, or 16 reporters. That’s down from 15 percent, or 24 reporters, in 1998.

ABC’s Pierre Thomas was the highest-ranking African-American, coming in at No. 18.


In an effort to help newspapers diversify their newsroom staffs, the Freedom Forum has announced the launch of a college database.

Available on the Freedom Forum Web site, the database, called the Diversity Directory, provides information on colleges with significant populations of students of color who often are overlooked by newspaper recruiters.

“Newspaper editors have told us they have trouble recruiting people of color, “ said Charles L. Overby, chairman and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum. “With this database, we’re offering them a new pool of diverse talent. “

According to the most recent figures from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the number of minority journalists working at daily newspapers declined in 2000, from 11.85 percent to 11.64 percent – the first decline in 23 years, according to the Freedom Forum.

One obstacle to diversifying newspaper staffs is a limited “pipeline” for minority journalists. Therefore, a goal of the Diversity Directory is to expand the potential pool of minority candidates for newspaper jobs in order to allow editors to find and cultivate talent regionally.

The database contains information on 211 colleges and universities in 32 states, including tribal colleges and historically black colleges. The database can be searched by school name, by state and by ethnicity of students.


The Supreme Court in January let stand a lower-court ruling striking down as unconstitutional federal rules designed to promote employment diversity in the broadcast industry.

Over a year ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Federal Communications Commission’s rules put official government pressure on television, radio, and cable operators to recruit minority candidates in a way that was not narrowly tailored to support a compelling government interest.

Without comment or dissent, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal brought by a number of groups, including the National Organization for Women and People for the American Way, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, at its December open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission started the process of rewriting its policy by proposing new rules that would require broadcasters and cable companies to send job vacancy information to all recruitment organizations that request it.

The agency also proposed that companies participate in certain outreach programs such as job fairs and internship programs, as well as interact with education and community groups and file annual employment reports.

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