REPORT: BLACKS GET LESS AIR TIME
For the first time in five years, no black reporter was among the top 25 on the network evening news programs in 2001, as measured by the amount of stories they reported, according to a study released in February.
Tied for 28th place were CBS’ Byron Pitts and ABC’s Pierre Thomas, with 72 appearances on their news programs, according to the study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Only one other black reporter – Randall Pinkston of CBS – was in the top 50. However, a year earlier, two black reporters made the top 10.
During 2000, there were three minorities in the top 10, but only one – NBC’s Jim Avila – was among the top 25 in 2001. None was in the top 10.
The most visible network news reporter last year was CBS’ John Roberts, who reported 177 stories. Robert Hager was the leader at NBC with 159 stories, followed by Terry Moran, who covered 138 stories on ABC, the center said.
Overall, the study found that the number of stories reported by all minorities and women in 2001 was up slightly over 2000. Eighty-eight percent of the stories were reported by whites and 75 percent by men, the report said.
ABC TIES EVALUATIONS TO USE OF DIVERSE SOURCES
ABC News has compiled a database of 480 people – all minorities – to turn to for on-air or taped comments. And employees have been told twice that evaluations will be based in part on how many of these sources they call, USA Today reported.
“The goal here is to make sure that when we are seeking experts outside the news division to help explain stories we’re working on, we include in the group we’re considering a wide variety of possibilities, rather than simply going back to the same, limited group,” ABC News President David Westin wrote in an e-mail to staffers Jan. 19.
However, it was reported that ABC staffers largely ignored the memo, which prompted Westin to revisit the issue with top producers, who then told their news employees that this was serious business. The producers reminded staffers that evaluations would include a diversity component.
“Diversity is very important to this news division and company, both in front of and behind the camera,” said ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider.
In recent years, minority groups have accused all the networks of paying lip service to the issue of diversity, according to USA Today.
CBS and NBC both say that they have rules similar to ABC’s and grade producers on the issue accordingly.
CNN has diversity plans but doesn’t grade producers on it.
Fox News spokeswoman Irena Steffan couldn’t point to any specific policy, but in commenting about on-air sources, she said that “we pick knowledgeable people who know what they’re talking about.”
TAMPA GETS SPANISH CABLE NEWS CHANNEL
Because of the Tampa area’s growing Hispanic community and its long history of Hispanic newsmakers, Bay News 9 has launched what it is calling the nation’s first all local news cable channel in Spanish.
Bay News 9 en Espanol debuted with one anchor and one reporter in an effort company officials said could be replicated nationwide. The cable channel was more than two years in the making.
Bay News 9 en Espanol is focusing its coverage on the local Hispanic community, but it also is including news and weather from Latin America, The Associated Press reported.
Stories from English-language Bay News 9 reporters will be translated into Spanish.
The station is available to Time Warner digital cable subscribers but not to subscribers of the area’s basic cable service.
The cable news channel is expected to reach about 50,000 Hispanic households in the Tampa area, according to the AP.
The 2000 Census showed that Hispanics surpassed blacks as Florida’s largest minority group, growing by about 70 percent in the last decade to make up about 17 percent of Florida’s population.
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