Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Strangers in Town

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Strangers in Town

Article excerpt

More depressing than the latest diversity census is the ignorance many editors have displayed about their changing hometowns

The reaction to results of this year's newsroom diversity census by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) provided the clearest proof yet that the annual release has become an honorable exercise drained of passion, if not of meaning. It might be compared to a memorial service for Armistice Day: The observation may be sincere and respectful, but no one these days can claim to be moved in a deeply personal way by the long-ago sacrifices of the young men who marched off to World War I.

There was no genuine outrage at ASNE's convention, even though daily newspapers failed -- by a wide margin -- to meet the first benchmark on the way to an industry goal of demographic parity between newsrooms and their markets that has been pushed off literally to the next generation, to 2025. Instead, there was more a collective sigh of relief that dailies had taken another baby step toward, and not away from, parity by slightly increasing the percentage of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans in their newsrooms.

This extremely modest achievement -- to 12.53% from 12.07% last year, in a nation that is already 31% minority -- was met with a rather desultory reaction even among associations of journalists of color. There was a suggestion that ASNE break out percentages of the four groups at individual newspapers next year. …

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