Minority employment in newsrooms held steady in 2012

Minority employees make up 12.37 percent of all newsroom employees in this year’s American Society of News Editors newsroom census, up ever so slightly from last year’s 12.32 percent. ASNE counted 4,700 minorities overall, compared with 5,000 last year.

The reason that a decline in the number of jobs held by minorities actually counts as a small increase in their representation in newsrooms? It’s that minority employment declined at almost exactly the same rate as overall employment in newsrooms.

As in previous years, while many online-only news organizations answered the survey, The Huffington Post, Politico and Patch weren’t among them.

“It is our company policy not to share this type of personal information about employees outside of the company,” AOL’s Office of the General Counsel told Poynter through a Huffington Post spokesperson.

Some of the bigger digital outlets that did respond had higher percentages of minorities than the industry average: 13.3 percent at SeattlePI.com, 15.2 percent at ProPublica, 34.6 percent at California Watch, for example.

ASNE’s count of traditional newspaper newsrooms was also missing big names such as USA Today and The Los Angeles Times, as Rick Edmonds noted in a piece for Poynter Tuesday. The New York Times reported minority employment of 18.9 percent, The Boston Globe had 20.7 percent and The Washington Post had 23.2 percent.

“Diversity is a core value at The Post, and we continue to work at it,” Washington Post Managing Editor Kevin Merida told Poynter in an email. “We can’t be a great news organization, and report on an increasingly diverse world, if we have a newsroom of journalists who look the same, talk the same, think the same.”

“Diversity means a lot of things at the Globe,” Boston Globe Managing Editor for Hiring and Development Paula Bouknight told Poynter by phone. While the Globe is trying to increase the number of women and minorities it employs, Bouknight said that “there are lots of things that we look for.”

Bouknight said the Globe has hired people with backgrounds outside the U.S., such as art critic Sebastian Smee, and also looks for candidates of different ages and backgrounds. “We have a lot of veterans,” she said of the Globe’s newsroom. “I like the fact that we are hiring former interns…we’ve made an investment in them.”

“The idea is that you’re going to be bringing in different ideas,” she said, adding that a diverse newsroom “allows you to at least be open to perspectives, thoughts and ideas” that you might not otherwise encounter.

Related: John Dotson, publisher of Akron Beacon Journal and diversity advocate, dies at 76 (Maynard Institute)

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