Knight Center
Knight Center


Study shows that minority journalists write only 7% of U.S. election stories


A new study finds that 93 percent of front page stories at major U.S. newspapers covering the 2012 presidential election were written by white journalists. Reporters from minority groups account for fewer than 7 percent of articles covering the election, with Asian reporters writing 4 percent, African-American reporters 2.1 percent, and by Hispanic reporters at 0.9 percent.

The study, conducted by media watchdog group the 4th Estate, was released last week but later updated after figures from some of the newspapers were initially incorrect. The 4th Estate’s co-founder Michael Howe told ABC News the group based its findings of reporters’ ethnicity on “publicly available information,” including looking at Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The study looks at four broad topics reported throughout the campaign – the economy, social issues, foreign policy, and immigration. The study analyzed a sample of front page articles from 38 print media outlets from Jan. 1 to Oct. 12 of this year. That sample was then broken down by topic and the ethnic background of the reporter. The findings were then compared to the 2012 census of minority representation in newsrooms, which was compiled by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE).

Miami Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch told the Poynter Institute the numbers were misleading because it did not reflect articles written by editors or by multiple reporters, and that percentage of Hispanic reporters with front page articles covering other topics was actually higher. According the second version of the study, the Miami Herald has 6.1 percent of its front page articles written by Hispanic reporters.

According to an Oct. 1 poll conducted by CNN, immigration is the second most important issue for Hispanic voters, after the economy. The percentages of articles written dealing with immigration in the 4th Estate study were 94.8 percent white, 3.8 percent from Hispanics, 0.7 percent Asian, and 0.7 percent African-American. The Dallas Morning News had 0.1 percent of its articles dealing with immigration written by a Hispanic reporter, despite the city having 42.4 percent Hispanic population. The newspaper does have the highest percentage of articles from African-American reporters than the other newspapers used the study, with a percentage of 18.8 percent. According to the ASNE, 5,000 of the country’s 40,600 employees at daily newspapers are minorities, a figure of about 12.3 percent.


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