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Oct. 10, 2017, 3:41 p.m.
Reporting & Production

The share of women in newsrooms has increased barely 1 percentage point since 2001, ASNE data shows

Things are almost as bad when it comes to the hiring of people of color: The share of POC working in American newsrooms is up 2.9 percent since 2001.

In what has already been a pretty depressing news week for women, the newly released results of ASNE’s newsroom diversity survey add a little more “meh” news in regards to both gender and racial diversity in U.S. newsrooms.

The share of people of color working in the 661 news organizations that took the survey was 16.55 percent in 2017, down slightly from 16.94 percent in 2016. (Things look a little better at online-only news sites: 24.3 percent of journalists working there were people of color, up from 23.3 percent last year.) ASNE’s stated goal is for the percentage of people of color working in newsrooms to match the percentage of POC in the population by 2025, and some of its data looks at how white newsrooms are compared to the populations of the cities they’re based in.

Women made up 39.1 percent of all newsroom employees in 2017, compared to 38.7 percent in 2016. (And only up slightly from way back in 2001, when it was 37.35 percent.) Again, online-only news organizations did better than daily newspapers: 47.8 percent of online-only news site employees were women, compared to 47.6 percent in 2016, while at daily newspapers, women comprised 38.9 percent of employees, compared to 38.1 percent in 2016.

The data isn’t surprising to those who’ve been following the issue. But progress is very slow.

“Why aren’t we seeing the number of people of color employed in newsrooms move…when we’ve been doing this and talking about diversity for, what, more than 20 years, maybe more than 30 years?” ASNE executive director Teri Hayt said to me earlier this year, explaining why — starting with 2017 — ASNE has chosen to focus on newsroom diversity rather than on the overall number of jobs lost in the industry.

ASNE began partnering this year with the Google News Lab, resulting in a great trove of data visualizations of this year’s survey results and historical data dating back to 2001. The visualizations can be filtered by race and gender and are helpful, in particular, in showing newsrooms’ progress on the diverse hiring front: The Washington Post, for instance, hits a 50/50 gender split, while USA Today’s newsroom is 67 percent male, The New York Times’ newsroom is 57 percent male, and The Wall Street Journal’s newsroom is 55 percent male.

The Post again leads the pack among the largest newspapers when it comes to racial diversity; 31 percent of its journalists are people of color, compared to 19 percent at both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. [If you’re having trouble seeing or using the graphic embedded below, pop it out here.]

More from the survey:

– In 2017, minorities comprised 16.55 percent of employees reported by all newsrooms in our survey, compared to 16.94 percent in 2016. Among daily newspapers, about 16.31 percent of employees were racial minorities (compared to 16.65 percent in 2016), and 24.3 percent of employees at online-only news websites were minorities (compared to 23.3 percent in 2016). The percent of journalists of color was still greatest at the largest news organizations. For example, at newspapers with daily circulations of 500,000 and above, nearly a quarter (23.4 percent) of the average workforce was made up of minorities (compared to 23.7 percent in 2016). The average newsroom workforce at all 661 legacy and digital sites was about 11.2 percent minority (up from 10.6 percent in 2016).

– Women made up more than a third of newsroom employees overall (39.1 percent in 2017 compared to 38.7 percent in 2016), with a higher number employed at online-only websites than at newspapers. Women comprised 38.9 percent of daily newspaper employees in this year’s survey (compared to 38.1 percent in 2016) and 47.8 percent of online-only news organization employees (compared to 47.6 percent in 2016).

– Women were the majority of the workforce at 30.2 percent of the online news websites (compared to 37.4 percent in 2016) and at 15.5 percent of the daily newspapers (compared to 14.2 percent in 2016).

– Of all newsroom leaders, 13.4 percent were minorities (compared to 13 percent in 2016), and 38.9 percent were women (compared to 37.1 percent in 2016). [Ed. Note: The survey lets individual newsrooms define who “leaders” are.]

ASNE also announced on Tuesday that it’s received a $300,000 grant from The Democracy Fund to overhaul and “invigorate” the diversity survey.

Photo by Angie Garrett used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     Oct. 10, 2017, 3:41 p.m.
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