Minorities score some gains in the newsroom

By Juan David Romero on August 9, 2014@JuanDavid1891

This year for the first time since the Great Recession the number of minority journalists in U.S. daily newsrooms has slightly increased.

This ended the severe seven-year-long decline from 2006 to 2013 – a gap that had halted 28 years of continuous progress, according to the annual American Society of News Editors (ASNE) minority employment census.

This summer, editors reported 4,900 minority journalists worked in newsrooms – a 4.2 percent increase from 2013. The percentage of minorities as a part of the total newsroom personnel grew from 12.37 percent to 13.34 percent in 2014.

 Year over year comparison of number of minority newsroom employees. SOURCE: ASNE/GRAPHIC BY LATINO REPORTER

Year over year comparison of number of minority newsroom employees.
SOURCE: ASNE/GRAPHIC BY LATINO REPORTER

ASNE President David Boardman said newsrooms need to take diversity seriously in order to prosper in the future.

“Those that don’t take it seriously and reflect diversity in their hiring, leadership and content are not going to survive because the demographics of the nation are changing so quickly,” Boardman told the Latino Reporter in an interview. “That is why minority leadership organizations have to keep the issue in front center.”

Julian Rodriguez, lecturer at the University of Texas and founding director for UTA News en Espanol, says newsrooms do want to hire minorities, but they also want them to have diverse ideas that truly represent the community and brings a different type of discourse that truly represents Latinos.

“I hope it gets better, but then again, I’ve waited 33 years,” said Rebecca Aguilar, NAHJ vice president for online.

At the peak of newsroom personnel, in 2006 and 2007, minorities totaled 7,400 andamounted to 13.73 percent and 13.43 percent of the total, respectively. The earliest data available is for 1978, when editors reported 1,700 minority journalists, or 3.95 percent of newsrooms.

There is a correlation between the drop in overall newsroom jobs and the downturn in the economy. However, groups like ASNE are working to reverse that trend.

“There is no diversity in journalism right now – Rebecca Aguilar, NAHJ vice president for online

On Thursday and Friday ASNE hosted the Minority Leadership Institute sponsored by Gannett at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention, which provided training to 16 journalists to develop them as leaders.

The meager annual increase in minority journalists are not evidence of an industry committed to diversity and inclusion, NAHJ members say.

“There is no diversity in journalism right now. There hasn’t been for a long time. I’ve been a journalist for 33 years fighting for diversity…It just hasn’t happened,” added Aguilar who is also the founder of Wise Latinas Linked, a networking group for Latinas on LinkedIn.

In 2014 Hispanic journalists in the newsroom numbered 1,637—up from 1,518 in 2013 – a 7.8 percent increase. In 2007, however, there were 2,409 Hispanic journalists in newsrooms.

The breakdown for 2014 in jobs was: 20 percent supervisors, 12 percent copy editors, 12 percent producers/designers, 45 percent reporters and 12 percent photo or video journalists. That was similar to the previous year.

“I’m just going to be honest. We’re still fighting the same fights we’ve been fighting since I got in the business in 1977,” stated Felix Contreras, Co-host for NPR’s AltLatino.

  MSNBC President Phil Griffin answers a question from Enrique Acevedo at the NAHJ Newsmakers luncheon. Photo by: Eduardo Sanchez/Latino Reporter

MSNBC President Phil Griffin answers a question from Enrique Acevedo at the NAHJ Newsmakers luncheon. Photo by: Eduardo Sanchez/Latino Reporter

MSNBC President Phil Griffin answers a question from Enrique Acevedo at the NAHJ Newsmakers luncheon. Photo by: Eduardo Sanchez/Latino Reporter

This struggle has been particularly a trying one for Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, who despite hiring Jose Diaz Balart in the hopes of opening the MSNBC doors to the Latino community, still faces scrutiny for his Cinco de Mayo debacle where the channel featured a correspondent in a sombrero gulping Tequila.

Griffin spoke Friday at the Newsmakers Luncheon at the NAHJ Convention in San Antonio, apologizing profusely throughout the event.

This story originally appeared in LatinoReporterCopyright © 2015 National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the George Ramos Student Projects.