Study: Women in Newsroom Up, Minorities in Newsroom Down

By Andrew Gauthier 

On Tuesday, the RTNDA and Hofstra University released their joint survey of Women and Minorities in local news, delivering mixed messages about the status of diversity in the newsroom. Though the number of women in the television workforce has reached an all-time high, the percentage of minorities in local television news fell since last year.

Women have hovered at the 40% mark of the TV workforce for a decade, but this year the number finally edged up to 41.4%–the highest level ever. Furthermore, women make up over 29% of TV news directors. Both figures are record highs, and the number of women news directors broke the record in 2008 as well.

Barbara Ciara, the Vice-President of UNITY Journalists of Color, and President of National Association of Black Journalists, recalls, “When I first arrived in the Norfolk, Virginia market in 1981 there was one African-American female on the air and a hand full of reporters of color. Today, we have two female News Directors, and eleven anchors of color at the Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC stations here. This after my first general manager told me quote: ‘I know this market and this area cant handle a black anchor.'”

Just a year ago, the percentage of minority news directors in TV set a record high, and the minority percentage in TV news overall was just shy of a record, but this year’s survey found that both numbers fell back. Minorities comprised 21.8% of local television news staff, a decrease from 23.6% in 2008. Much of the drop in minority employment came from a drop at Hispanic stations, where 72% of the TV news workforce is Hispanic, showing a 10% drop from last year.

RTNDA Chairman Stacey Woelfel has said that “While the increase in the number of women serving as news director is encouraging, the drop in the percentage of minorities employed in newsrooms is not. It is my hope the gains made in the last few years to make our newsrooms more diverse were not lost in the recent economic downturn.” More…