A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Diversity In-Brief

By Quill

More minorities work in financial news

Minorities may be better represented on business and financial news staffs than they are in newsrooms at large, according to a recent survey from Baruch College in New York.

Baruch’s survey of 21 major newspapers found that minorities comprise 22.7 percent of business news staffs, Editor & Publisher reported.

Meanwhile, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) survey found that 12.07 percent of all newsroom staff came from minority groups.

However, Baruch said the small size of its survey does not allow for direct comparisons with ASNE’s annual study. Baruch said it sent its survey to 60 of the nation’s largest papers.

The survey, which was conducted with the support of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), found three minority groups were about equally represented at 7 to 8 percent: 7.9 percent were Asian-American, 7.6 percent were Hispanic, and 7 percent were African-American.

Supervising editors on business desks included an even higher proportion of minorities – 24.6 percent.

The survey also found that 56.9 percent of all minority employees on business desks were women, compared with 42.6 percent of all business news workers.

Women’s role in news remains limited

Recent studies are showing that female journalists’ role in America’s newsrooms is shrinking, even though women predominate in undergraduate and graduate journalism programs – and have for decades.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors found that the percentage of women in newspaper newsrooms decreased from 37.35 percent to 37 percent. While slight, the decrease comes at a time when women continue to represent 60 percent or more of students in college journalism programs. Minority women at newspapers comprise only 2.99 percent of all women.

According to the 2001 Women and Minorities Survey, women account for 24 percent of television news directors and 20 percent of radio news directors. The Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation conducted that study.

On the other side of the microphone, there’s a shortage of women as well.

A study by the White House Project found that women accounted for only 11 percent of all guest appearances on Sunday talk shows in 2000 and 2001, and only 10 percent when guests included presidential and vice presidential candidates. Once accepted on the talk show, women spoke 10 percent fewer words, and were much less likely to be called back as a repeat guest. And women accounted for only 7 percent of repeat guests.

“This is a profession that has to learn a lot about bringing more voices to the table and creating more opportunities,” said Eleanor Clift, a contributing editor for Newsweek and a founding board member of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

One of the primary challenges women face in the news business is the demanding and often unpredictable schedule, WENews reported. A survey conducted with women in 44 countries in 2000 found that 64 percent said balancing work and family is their top obstacle.

California minorities rely on ethnic media

In California, many of the increasing number of minorities prefer to read publications and listen to broadcasts in their own language, a trend that is challenging advertisers.

Ethnic groups seem to be defying the traditional image of America as a great melting pot and instead rely on their own sources of information and advertising and to a large extent define themselves as a community by the ethnic media they consume, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Survey results released in April reported that ethnic media are pervasive – 84 percent of the survey’s Hispanic, Asian-American and African-American respondents said they get information through ethnic television, radio and publications.

And ethnic-media consumers are loyal – 68 percent of respondents said they prefer ethnic TV stations to English channels for watching news.

Meanwhile, 40 percent of respondents said they pay more attention to ethnic-language ads than ads in English media.

“The English media just doesn’t cover all the news I’m interested in,” said Jing Xu, 30, who emigrated from China a decade ago and now lives in San Francisco. “I get a different perspective from the ethnic media.”

The survey of more than 2,000 ethnic Californians, which may be the first comprehensive effort to quantify ethnic-media usage in the state, was conducted by New California Media, a nonprofit San Francisco foundation that tracks ethnic media.

Newspaper publishes gay unions

Community Newspaper Company (CNC) has taken the first cautious step toward what could be a major shift in policy in deciding to publish the union announcements of lesbian and gay couples in the CNC-owned Somerville (Mass.) Journal.

CNC, a Boston Herald-owned operation that publishes more than 100 papers in Greater Boston and on Cape Cod, has stopped short of allowing such announcements in the wedding pages of its other newspapers.

“We are doing it in Somerville for now, and we’ve had only positive feedback,” says Kevin Convey, editor in chief of the CNC chain. “But we are reluctant to roll out a new policy across the map. Somerville was a place that was ready.”

CNC’s policy of rejecting same-sex-union announcements first drew attention last year, when a lesbian couple submitted news of their ceremony and a photo to the Somerville Journal. At the time, CNC decided not to run gay-union announcements because such relationships are not legally recognized, even though the couple in question had been married in a religious ceremony.

The Boston Globe, Herald and numerous other papers follow the same policy of not running such announcements for the same reason.

Convey acknowledges that the new policy at the Somerville Journal is the first baby step on a long road, but says CNC is willing to consider implementing the change at its other papers as well.

“I’d like to put an optimistic face on this, but I’ve learned that with 87 small papers and four suburban dailies, it can’t be one-size-fits-all,” he said. “Every community is different.”

Column on Hispanics criticized

Nearly 100 people rallied outside the (Las Vegas) Review-Journal offices on May 29, criticizing free-lance columnist Ken Ward for writing about the struggles of Hispanics in public schools.

The protesters held signs that read, “Ward Is A Racist” and chanted “Free speech, not free hate,” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ken Ward has got to go.”

Chelsie Campbell, president of the Student Organization of Latinos at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, said Ward’s May 15 column perpetuated stereotypes and misinformed the public about the education level of Hispanic students and their parents.

“We totally agree it’s free speech, but we just think he crossed the line,” Campbell said.

In his column, Ward wrote that Hispanics – the fastest-growing minority in the Clark County (Nev.) School District – struggle in school because their parents are less educated than the general population, they drop out more, and they do poorly on standardized tests. As a result, the school district is burdened with the expense of special programs to help them, he wrote.

Ward cited census figures and statistics from the school district in his column.

Ward said his column stated “broadly held truths” the school district must address.

“I can’t really apologize for what I wrote,” Ward said. “I’m paid to have opinions and be honest about what my opinions are. The school district has poor test scores and one of the highest dropout rates in the country, and those numbers come largely from minority enrollment in the district.”

Review-Journal Editor Thomas Mitchell said of Ward’s column, “There is nothing pejorative or racist about it.”

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