Knight Center
Knight Center


U.S. broadcasting sees uptick in minority employment; newspapers lag behind

Radio and television stations continued to hire more minorities during the last year while minority employment declined at newspapers, according to the new 2012 Radio Television Digital News Association survey.

According the report, minorities, including African Americas, Asian Americas, Native Americans, and Hispanics, account for 21.5 percent of the TV workforce, up one percent from 2011. Radio employees are 11.7 percent minority, up from 7.1 percent in 2011. Poynter noted that the West and South were the most diverse markets, trailed by the Northeast and the Midwest.

African Americans are the most represented at non-Hispanic stations, making up 10.5 percent of the workforce (up from 9.4 percent in 2011). Workers at Hispanic television stations overwhelming identify as Hispanic at 89.6 percent, up 5.4 percent from 2011.

While news directors at television and radio stations remain mostly Caucasian, there was an uptick in minority representation in the position.

The Radio Television Digital News Association’s survey echoed an earlier report from the Pew Center on Excellence in Journalism that found a “notable increase” in full-time employment for minorities in the media in 2011, at 58.7 percent, up from 49.9 percent in 2010.

Despite progress in radio and television, newspaper diversity continues to decline, according to the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the Center for Advanced Social Research (CASR) at the Missouri School of Journalism. Minorities comprise only about 12.3 percent of U.S. newsrooms, down from a high of 13.7 in 2006, according to the groups.

Poynter pointed out that minorities are disproportionately affected when newsrooms reduce staff, with nearly one in three job cuts affecting minorities.

Minority representation in newsrooms is more important than ever in the United States. Sandy Close of New American Media asked how it was possible to cover a city without considering ethnic and African American media in her keynote speech for the 9th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas. ASNE President Milton Coleman also spoke to the value of minority representation in the newsroom. “At a time when the U.S. Census shows that minorities are 36 percent of the U.S. population, newsrooms are going in the opposite direction. This is an accuracy and credibility issue for our newsrooms,” said Coleman in a statement.

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