David Lawrence Takes ASNE Helm: Newsroom Pluralism Is Top Priority for Editors' Group President

By Fitzgerald, Mark | Editor & Publisher, April 6, 1991 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

David Lawrence Takes ASNE Helm: Newsroom Pluralism Is Top Priority for Editors' Group President

Fitzgerald, Mark, Editor & Publisher

David Lawrence takes ASNE helm

Newsroom pluralism is top priority for editors' group president

There is no question at all about the top priority of the American Society of Newspaper Editors' new president.

David Lawrence Jr. has been a vigorous voice for a more diverse newsroom and newspaper staff for years. Probably no other newspaper executive is so thoroughly identified with this industry cause as the publisher and chairman of the Miami Herald.

As long ago as 1978, Lawrence was on ASNE's minorities committee. He chaired the industrywide Task Force on Minorities in the Newspaper Business when it issued its landmark "Cornerstone for Growth" report in the spring of 1989.

For this work on encouraging racial diversity in newspapers, Lawrence has been honored with awards ranging from the Ida B. Wells Award to the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith's First Amendment Freedom Award.

It is not surprising then that even before Dave Lawrence formally took the ASNE reins, he issued this marching order: "One thing I've asked every committee chair to do is weave, in some way, pluralism through that committee. Of the 15 or so chairs, each of them ought to have some theme of pluralism in their activities, in some measure," Lawrence said in an interview from Miami.

Pluralism, diversity, multiculturalism -- by any name building and keeping a newspaper staff that reflects the society at large -- will be a central theme at this year's ASNE convention April 9-12 in Boston.

ASNE will issue a new survey on newsroom diversity. In past years, this has been a rather dispiriting portrait of glacially slow progress.

Lawrence says that this year there is good news.

"The newest ASNE figures are going to show honest growth in the pluralism of U.S. newsrooms. Specifically, they will show that a higher percentage of new newsroom hires are minorities," he said.

"That fuels progress for the future," Lawrence added.

Two developments lend an even greater urgency to this task, however.

The first is the growing impatience of civil rights groups and others with the heretofore slow progress.

Recently, for instance, the NAACP hinted strongly that it may look for a legal remedy to the problem.

Lawrence said that he shares that impatience.

"Newspapers have not been a particularly good home for minorities, or women, for that matter. Too often we are satisfied with making progress in increments of one [employee].

"There is an honest and often justifiable frustration," Lawrence added. "I don't think, however, the answer is to involve more lawyers. I'd rather figure out how to do things ourselves than have a court or judge do it."

ASNE's good news also, of course, comes against a background of continuing bad news in the economy.

Progress in minority new hires is less comforting when dozens of newspapers -- including prosperous papers such as Lawrence's own Miami Herald -- are laying off scores of current employees.

That is precisely why newspaper staff pluralism must be emphasized now, Lawrence said.

"I'm saying that even in these tight economic times that we not be permitted to use that as an excuse for not making progress."

In any case, Lawrence added quickly, newspapers are headed back to good times.

"I enter all of this extremely bullish about the future of good newspapers," he said.

"The Persian Gulf war demonstrated once again how vital newspapers are. We saw that in circulation increases [across the country]. At the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald [the paper's Spanish-language daily] we sold tens and tens of thousands of extra papers. TV simply could not provide the context, the sense of meaning, that newspapers can," Lawrence continued.

For that matter, Lawrence argues, newspaper pluralism is an economic imperative itself.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

David Lawrence Takes ASNE Helm: Newsroom Pluralism Is Top Priority for Editors' Group President


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?