With ASNE Diversity Numbers Again 'Dismal,' Minority Orgs Shift Strategy

Article excerpt

In a significant change in strategy on newsroom diversity, the leaders of the principal organizations of minority journalists on Sunday declared the newspaper industry's goal of parity by 2025 dead, and declared they would concentrate their efforts on getting journalists of color into senior management.

In a conference call as the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) prepared to release its annual census of the ethnic and racial diversity of daily newspaper newsroom, the presidents of the associations of black, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native Americans, plus their umbrella Unity organization, unanimously agreed that there is no way the industry will employ journalists of color in the proportion as the communities they serve by 2025 at the rate it is going now.

"I 100% believe that the goal is not going to be reached," said Jeanne Mariani-Belding, president of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), and editorial/opinion editor of The Honolulu Advertiser.

The census, which was to be released later on Sunday, shows that daily newspapers employ about 300 fewer journalists of color than they did this time last year.

Because of the waves of layoffs across newsrooms, however, the percentage of minority journalists in newsrooms increased slightly, to 13.52% of all journalists from 13.43% last year. In the U.S. population at large, people of color comprise about one-third of the population. In four states, including California, the percentage of non-Hispanic whites has fallen below 50%.

"One thing that is clear is that our efforts to advance diversity in the newsroom are simply not working," said Karen Lincoln Michel, president of Unity: Journalists of Color Inc., and Madison bureau chief of the Green Bay (Wisc.) Press-Gazette.

"The numbers are dismal -- and there's a growing gap between the numbers of people of color in the newsroom and in the general community," she added. …