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Newsonomics: Two years after launching a local news company (in an Alden market), here’s what I’ve learned
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June 26, 2020, 1:21 p.m.
LINK: www.pewresearch.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Hanaa' Tameez   |   June 26, 2020

Two new studies this week couldn’t be more timely.

Amid a reckoning with institutionalized racism in the news media industry, the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation conducted separate studies that drew similar conclusions: American news consumers don’t feel that the news media represents them and the industry’s lack of diversity is a huge contributor.

“Roughly similar portions of black (58%), Hispanic (55%) and white Americans (61%) say the news media misunderstand them, but they cite markedly different reasons for this misunderstanding,” Pew found. One third of Black Americans, for example, said their personal characteristics were misunderstood. On the other hand, 39 percent of white Americans said their political views were misunderstood. Then, 26 percent of Hispanic Americans felt their personal interests were misunderstood.

The study gets into more specific demographics, too, including political leanings, religious affiliations, and age groups. “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are far more likely to feel the news media misunderstand them than Democrats and Democratic leaners (73% vs. 47%),” Pew says. “Male U.S. adults are somewhat more likely than female adults to feel this, and those ages 18 to 29 are more likely to say this than those older than them.”

Meanwhile, the Knight Foundation specifically examined newsroom diversity and found that “69% of Americans say that reflecting the diversity of the U.S. population is a ‘critical’ (35%) or ‘very important’ (34%) role for the media. Black (50%), Hispanic (43%) and Asian people (41%) are more likely than white people (30%) to say the media’s role in reflecting diversity is ‘critical.'”

Of the people who want to see newsrooms diversified, they prioritized diversity based on race/ethnicity (35 percent), political views (30 percent), income or social class (18 percent), age (9 percent) and gender (5 percent).

About half of Republicans (51 percent) want to see political diversity increased, while 49 percent of Democrats said racial and ethnic diversity is the most important to them.

As newsrooms across the country look for ways to address diversity issues, both studies (which were conducted before the George Floyd protests beginning in late May) offer at least some insight into how future decisions might be perceived by the public.

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