Diversity Is Key to Newsrooms’ Economic Survival

Minority employment in daily newspapers Projections based on responses to annual employment census (numbers rounded)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is disheartened to learn for the fourth year in a row that overall representation by journalists of color in U.S. newsrooms surveyed by the American Society of News Editors(ASNE) has declined.

Down from a relative high of representing 13 percent of print-focused newsrooms in 2006 to only 12.3 percent in 2012, journalists of color are losing ground in representing an increasingly diverse population.

As we have seen through recent news coverage, diversity is more important than ever. Without a variety of life experiences and perspectives in the journalism industry, newsrooms have a narrow lens through which to filter information for a wide-ranging audience.

In February, AAJA issued a Media Advisory to counter harmful stereotypes about Asians and Asian Americans that were appearing in news reports about NBA player Jeremy Lin. Without the benefit of diverse voices to help educate within the newsroom, some news organizations risked losing credibility with their audience.

Not only is diversity in hiring the right thing to do because it mirrors the changing complexion of our nation’s cities, it makes economic sense. Hiring journalists who can speak to a 21st-century audience — one in which people of color will be the majority — allows news organizations to remain relevant.

“Diversity drives dollars, and dollars drive the news industry,” said AAJA National President Doris Truong. “Hiring managers will find a wealth of talented journalists by tapping into networks such as AAJA’s.”

AAJA offers a pipeline of qualified candidates who will keep newsrooms ahead of the curve in connecting with a dynamic society. There is no excuse for the next ASNE census of America’s newsrooms to continue the downward trend in journalists of color since 2009.

“Let’s work together with our partners, including UNITY and the National Association of Black Journalists, to make sure diversity is a business imperative,” Truong said. “And top-level managers who are members of groups such as ASNE can make a real difference with each hire.”

Media Contact: AAJA Executive Director Kathy Chow

  • E-mail: kathyc@aaja.org
  • Telephone: 415-346-2051 | Fax: 415-346-6343
  • Mailing address: 5 Third St., Suite 1108, San Francisco, Calif. 94103