Just how diverse ARE America’s newsrooms?

The racial reckoning is happening inside U.S. newsrooms and across the interwebs as 2021 saw the exit and tumolt of journalists against journalists play out across public exits and “cancel culture” activity. JOURNALISTS REMOVED FROM COVERING BLACK LIVES MATTER. And the recent media coverage of a hate crime in Atlanta in which a white man murdered six Asian women has brought into light just how white the U.S. media workforce.

SAY THEIR NAMES. This video produced by the Asian-American Journalists Association provides a pronunciation guide to the Asian victims of the Atlanta Spa shootings and the correct way to pronounce their names.

In a recent shooting in Atlanta, seven of the eight killed were women, six were of Asian descent. The media coverage was not kind to these victims — women of color. Even top media outlets in the U.S. mispronounced their names, blatantly disrespected Asian naming traditions, and presented the victims as objects, while painting the shooter as a sympathetic character. This inaccurate representation of a minority community and the increase in anti-Asian violence has brought to light the issue of a lack of diversity in American newsrooms. While the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent calls for more inclusive editorial positions have increased the numbers of BIPOC in leadership roles, the developments are not happening fast enough. Here are a few contemporary reports studying the diversity in the country’s major media outlets. 

  • Most decisions at Condé Nast are made by white professionals

In their Diversity and Inclusion Report 2020, the publication powerhouse gives a long explanation about all the positive changes they have brought about in last year, then finally show the bleak numbers in their report. Out of their staff based in the U.S., 77 percent of the senior leadership is comprised of white people. Of the editors-in-chief, 55 percent are also white with Black, Asian, and multi-racial leaders amounting to 15% each. The 2021 Diversity and Inclusion overview from competitor Hearst tells a similar story.

  • Reuters found a severe lack of diversity in 100 global media outlets 

A 2021 report studying five countries and looking at Race and Leadership in the News Media presented some interesting findings. While 42 percent of the population across these nations was non-white, only 15 percent of the top editors are people of color. This actually shows a decline from 18 percent in 2020. The most brazen statistic — in publications from Brazil, Germany, the UK, and the US — only 5 percent of the top editors are not white. 

  • The top editors in most newspapers are not only white, but also male

In the Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2019 report only 17 percent of newsrooms provided diversity data, telling in and of itself. This study found that at the editorial desks of both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, white journalists earn more than minorities. In many major outlets named in the paper, male journalists also earn a lot more than their female counterparts. These figures can be discouraging for women journalists and reporters of color. But social media backlash has brought even the most powerful names at some of the world’s most celebrated titles and companies under scrutiny, like Anna Wintour at Vogue and disclosures from insiders at The Washington Post and New York Times.

While systematic change will take time, journalists of color must keep fighting for a seat at the decision-making table. Until then, sign up for “The Collective,” a new newsletter by journalists of color for journalists of color.

Published by michelleferrier

Executive Director, Media Innovation Collaboratory; Founder, Troll-Busters.com | Online Pest Control for Writers and Journalists;

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