RTNDA, UNITY Call for Diversity Summit
RTNDA/Ball State University survey shows drop in minorities in radio and television newsrooms
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/10/2003 8:00:00 PM
RTNDA and the UNITY: Journalists of Color last Friday said they want to hold a summit discuss a way to get more minorities working in TV and radio newsrooms, and the timing is no coincidence.
|Broadcast News Workforce|
|Here's how TV/Radio employment breaks down by race, compared to last year, and to nearly a decade ago.|
|In TV, minorities dropped to 18.1%, with all minority groups except Native Americans edging down. In fact, over the last nine years, there has been no consistent, meaningful change in the percentage of minorities in television news.
Without Hispanic stations, the minority percentage fell from last year's 19% to 17% this year. In radio, the percentage of minorities continued the general slide that started with the elimination of the EEO guidelines.
Source: RTNDA/Ball State survey
The move is in response to a recent survey that showed a drop for a second consecutive year in the percentage of minorities in the newsroom.
"If we knew better why the drop was happening then we'd have a better sense of approaches we could take to turn things around," says RTNDA President Barbara Cochran. "And one of the things we'd like to do is get the money to do some more studies."
According to the 2003 RTNDA/Ball State University Annual Survey of women and minorities, the percentage of African-Americans in the TV-news workforce dropped from 9.3% in 2002 to 8.4%.
For Hispanics, the number dropped from 7.7% to 6.5% and Asian Americans dipped from 3.1% to 2.7%.
Cochran says that overall employment in newsrooms fell during 2001 but 2002 was a year of hiring back. So even though the number of minorities in the newsroom increased in 2002, it still fell as a percentage.
One step RTNDA will take this year is to start more broadcast journalism programs in high schools to spark interest in the profession. RTNDA is also using scholarships and fellowships in its efforts to encourage greater minority interest in broadcast journalism. The end result is to better enable stations to serve their communities.
"If you're trying to serve your audience and you aren't representative of the community that can be a problem," says Cochran. "You could miss stories or the audience could feel your news is not for them."
Television continues to have higher percentages of minorities in the newsroom then radio, with radio stations that 6.5% of their newsroom workforces are minority members. (TV's combined minority total is 18.1%).
One of the more interesting breakdowns in the survey is that only 67% of stations in the top 25 markets have minorities on their news staffs. But as a group, the top 25 stations report that nearly 25% of their entire workforce are minorities.
"As our population gets more diverse the news media needs to keep up with that," adds Cochran. "A station's news report needs to accurately reflect the community its serving."
The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2002 among a random sample of 1,421 TV stations and 1,490 radio stations. Valid responses were received from 890 TV stations and 445 radio stations.
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