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Disproportionate Loss of Journalists of Color

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

ASNE: "Loss in Minority Newsroom Positions Was 5.7%"

Obama, Romney Favor Campaign Themes Over Media Issues

NYU Prof Welcomes Unity's Picks for Top Journalists

Media Taking on Police-Like Role in Trayvon Case

NBC Apologizes for Edit of Zimmerman's 911 Call

51% of Latinos Most Often Identify Themselves by Country

Magazine Editors Chief Calls Gender Bias Complaints "Silly"

NPR Series on Native Care Among Peabody Winners

Health Care Arguments Hurt Image of Court, Law

Short Takes

From the cover of the ASNE report,

ASNE: "Loss in Minority Newsroom Positions Was 5.7%"

The loss of journalists of color in newspaper and online newsrooms outstripped the decline of journalists overall in 2011, according to the annual diversity census of the American Society of News Editors, released on Wednesday. 

"The total newsroom employment at daily newspapers declined by 2.4 percent in 2011, while the loss in minority newsroom positions was 5.7 percent," ASNE said. Ronnie Agnew, who co-chairs ASNE's Diversity Committee, said in announcing the results, "It's not just the numbers that are going down, there's a nuance that's going to be missed . . . with the shortage of people" lost to "this wonderful, wonderful profession."

Agnew pointed to the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager, as an example.

"African American people are having to go to alternative media sources to get the news coverage they are looking for. It's a content issue," said Agnew, executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting and former executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.

Dori J. Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute, who attended the briefing, added the case of Jeremy Lin, the Asian American phenom for the NBA's New York Knicks. The Asian American Journalists Association published guidelines on how to report on Lin after a spate of incidents involving racially charged language at such outlets as ESPN and Fox.

"Clearly, we have work to do," Agnew said at the annual ASNE convention in Washington. "We have to reenergize the CEOs of the various journalism organizations to let them know this is a business imperative."

Although the report showed the decline in the number of journalists at newspapers has stabilized, the proportion of journalists of color has declined as their percentage of the general population has increased.

The 2012 survey counted 40,600 journalists in the newspaper and online workforces, and 5,000 journalists of color, representing 12.3 percent.

In the 2011 survey, there were 41,600 total journalists and 5,300 journalists of color, 12.7 percent.

Among Asian Americans, the count showed 1,166, a decline of 117 over 10 years.

Among black journalists, 1,886, down 993 over 10 years.

Among Hispanics, the count showed 1,650 journalists at dailies, a decline of 443 over 10 years.

Among American Indians, the figure was 132, down 175 over 10 years.

A total of 150 people checked the new "multiracial" category.

"Despite this year's loss in newsroom positions, the decline in jobs that began in 2006-07 appears to be stabilizing," ASNE said in a news release. "The loss this year is not as drastic as the losses between 2007 and 2010.

"The decline in minority newsroom employment also appears to be stabilizing. Following a decline of approximately 800 minority newsroom positions in both 2008 and 2009, the total loss over the last two years was 500 jobs. There were slight decreases in the percentage of employees in each minority category in 2011, although the census was revised this year to add a category of 'multi-racial.' "

This year, the Center for Advanced Social Research (CASR) at the Missouri School of Journalism, a unit of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at Missouri, collected and analyzed the data along with ASNE. This is also the first year the census was conducted online, producing a response rate of 71.7 percent. The previous record was 65 percent under the postcard-and-phone call method, according to Richard Karpel, ASNE's executive director.

Since 1978, ASNE has had a goal of matching the percentage of journalists of color in newsrooms to the percentage of people of color in the population. "According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of minorities in the total U.S. population is nearing 50 percent," ASNE noted.

Agnew maintained that journalists and journalism students have a reason for optimism despite the gloomy numbers. "There will be a business model" that works, he said. "I tell the students, 'You won't have the same career that I have.' " It will be different, but "they're going to be fine."

Debra Adams Simmons, editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, who also attended the briefing, said, "I see a lot of optimism and commitment in my newsroom. We have to continue to develop the young journalists of color."

President Obama tells journalists that sometimes giving "equivalence" to opposing sides "reinforces I think people's cynicism about Washington generally."  (White House video).

Obama, Romney Favor Campaign Themes Over Media Issues

President Obama urged journalists Tuesday to resist the impulse to "suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing, then they're equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle."

On Wednesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican front runner, told the same audience of editors and publishers, "Frankly, in some of the new media, I find myself missing the presence of editors to exercise quality control. I miss the days of two or more sources for a story — when at least one source was actually named."

Despite those media references, each came before members of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press and the Newspaper Association of America, convening in Washington, primarily to lay out philosophical differences with the other party.

Molly Ball, writing Wednesday for the Atlantic, observed, "Neither man made more than glib and passing reference to his audience  — executives from an industry both crucial to democracy and mired in a long-running business crisis.

". . . when it came to the changes roiling media, Romney conspicuously punted: 'How your industry will change, I cannot predict,' he said. 'But I do know this: You will continue to find ways to provide the American people with reliable information that is vital to our lives and to our nation. And I am confident that the press will remain free.'

"This sort of fatuous, feel-good optimism will be cold comfort to the thousands of reporters who have been laid off in recent years, or the bosses who have had to make the cuts — presiding over drastic downsizings and in some cases seeing news organizations disappear entirely. But at least Romney bothered to mention the state of the industry. Obama didn't even do that."

In laying out his differences with Republicans over the budget, Obama said, "I guess another way of thinking about this is — and this bears on your reporting. I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing, then they're equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and an equivalence is presented — which reinforces I think people's cynicism about Washington generally.

"This is not one of those situations where there's an equivalence. I've got some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress who were prepared to make significant changes to entitlements that go against their political interests, and who said they were willing to do it.

After Obama's speech Tuesday, at a discussion comparing the reporting that led to the Watergate disclosures of 40 years ago with the reporting climate today, Carl Bernstein challenged audience members to answer "the real question of whether what he said is the truth."

In the Washington Post, the paper where Bernstein broke the Watergate stories with fellow reporter Bob Woodward, Glenn Kessler devoted his "The Fact Checker" column to Obama's speech. On Wednesday, Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press dissected both candidates' remarks.

NYU Prof Welcomes Unity's Picks for Top Journalists

Disappointed with New York University's list of "The 100 Outstanding Journalists in the U.S. in the Last 100 Years," released Monday, Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc., on Tuesday produced its own seed list of those "whose inclusion in NYU’s list would have better represented the full diversity of our country, our industry and the past century."

Mitchell Stephens, the NYU professor who coordinated the project, told Journal-isms he welcomed Unity's contribution.

Leroy Aarons "Our list, as I said at our 100th anniversary party last night, was intended to begin rather than end a conversation," Stephens said by email. "Unity's more diverse 'seed list' of impressive journalists is an interesting and important contribution to that conversation. I plan to link to it on our website, and I would hope we can find occasions — perhaps here at NYU — to discuss further with them the issues raised by their list and our list and their reaction to it."

The NYU journalism program celebrated its 100th anniversary on Tuesday. 

The NYU list contained some names better known for their literary work, and included no Latinos, Asian Americans or Native Americans. Robert C. Maynard, namesake of the Maynard Institute, did not make NYU's list but was part of Unity's.

Joanna Hernandez, president of Unity, said in a news release, "We do not believe the number of top journalists can be limited to 100, so Helen Ziawe have created a seed list. This list is by no means comprehensive, but we hope it will inspire our current and next generation of journalists.

"Here is UNITY’s seed list, from Leroy Aarons to Helen Zia."

Aarons, who died in 2004, was an executive editor of the Oakland Tribune, co-founder of the Maynard Institute and founder of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. 

Zia is an author, a former executive editor of Ms. magazine and a feminist. The Asian American Journalists Association honored her in 2001 for the impact of her 2001 book, "Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People," which documents Asian American struggles from the 17th century to the 20th century.

Trayvon Martin celebrates his mother's birthday, nine days before he was killed.

Media Taking on Police-Like Role in Trayvon Case

"The news media are taking on an increasingly police-like role in the Trayvon Martin slaying by using modern forensic techniques to analyze evidence, an approach some legal experts say can lead to a distorted view of the case because a lot of the key evidence is still under wraps," Curt Anderson wrote Tuesday for the Associated Press.

"The public has been whipsawed back and forth as new revelations emerge, appearing to support one version or the other.

". . . Legal and forensic experts cautioned that none of the media-led investigations, which are done in many high-profile cases, has been conclusive."

NBC Apologizes for Edit of Zimmerman's 911 Call

"NBC News has apologized for editing the 911 call that Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman made to police on the night of Martin's death, saying it deeply regrets airing the altered version of the tape," Tim Kenneally reported Tuesday for theWrap.com.

"NBC News said that it realized that it was in error following its investigation of the broadcast.

" 'During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret,' the network said in a statement provided to TheWrap. 'We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.' "

The statement did not say where in the production process the error occurred.

" 'Today' aired the tape on March 27, altering it in such a way that could suggest Zimmerman — a neighborhood watch member in his Florida neighborhood — was racially motivated in the shooting."

Conservative groups, such as Media Research Center, led by Brent Bozell, cited the episode as an example of liberal media bias.

51% of Latinos Most Often Identify Themselves by Country

"Nearly four decades after the United States government mandated the use of the terms 'Hispanic' or 'Latino' to categorize Americans who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries, a new nationwide survey of Hispanic adults finds that these terms still haven't been fully embraced by Hispanics themselves," Paul Taylor, Mark Hugo Lopez, Jessica Hamar Martínez and Gabriel Velasco reported Wednesday for the Pew Hispanic Center.

"A majority (51%) say they most often identify themselves by their family's country of origin; just 24% say they prefer a pan-ethnic label.

"Moreover, by a ratio of more than two-to-one (69% versus 29%), survey respondents say that the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S. have many different cultures rather than a common culture. Respondents do, however, express a strong, shared connection to the Spanish language. More than eight-in-ten (82%) Latino adults say they speak Spanish, and nearly all (95%) say it is important for future generations to continue to do so."

Magazine Editors Chief Calls Gender Bias Complaints "Silly"

"Sid Holt, the chief executive of the American Society of Magazine Editors, says criticisms about how few women were named as finalists for this year’s National Magazine Awards are 'kind of silly,' " Andrew Beaujon wrote Thursday for the Poynter Institute.

". . . Lots of magazines and writers didn’t become finalists, Holt says. 'It's not because that work doesn’t deserve recognition, and it's not because there's a secret cabal making the decisions. It's because magazine journalists and journalism educators from around the country, organized into 20 different committees composed of 11 to 15 judges, decided that these five stories were the best stories submitted in, say, Personal Service or Reporting. ASME respects those decisions.' " |

NPR Series on Native Care Among Peabody Winners

"NPR is being honored by the 71st Annual George Foster Peabody Awards for an investigation into inequalities in the South Dakota foster care system for Native Americans, powerful coverage of the Arab Spring, and remembrances of 9/11 collected by StoryCorps and broadcast on Morning Edition, it was announced today," NPR said Wednesday in a news release.

"Receiving Peabody Awards are the NPR News Investigation 'Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families,' reported by correspondent Laura Sullivan and producer Amy Walters; and NPR’s foreign desk, namely Jerusalem Correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, for extraordinary coverage of the Arab Spring in 2011."

". . . The unflinching series 'Native Foster Care,' which aired in three parts on All Things Considered in October 2011, examined how lack of knowledge about Native culture and traditions and federal financial funding all influence the decision to remove so many Native-American children from homes in South Dakota."

TVNewser noted, "Al Jazeera English won a Peabody for its coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings, and the BBC won two awards, one for a documentary examining Somalia and a second for BBC.com."

Other winners included the HBO series "Treme" and the PBS "American Experience" series, which included "Freedom Riders," a documentary based on what the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times' Eric Deggans described as a landmark book by Ray Arsenault, a University of South Florida St. Petersburg professor.

Health Care Arguments Hurt Image of Court, Law

"While most Americans say last week's Supreme Court hearings on the 2010 health care law did not change their views of the law or of the Court, they did more harm than good to the image of both," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Monday.

"In the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post, conducted March 29-April 1, 2012 among 1,000 adults, nearly two-thirds (63%) say what they saw and heard about the hearings did not change their opinion of the health care law, while 23% say they now have a less favorable opinion and just 7% a more favorable opinion of it. Similarly, 65% say their view of the Supreme Court remains unchanged after the hearings, but the number who say their view of the Court has grown more negative is three times the number who say it has grown more positive (21% vs. 7%).

"These more critical reactions have a decidedly partisan cast."

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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