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Journalists Say Publications Fall Short in Creating Diverse Newsrooms

By Grace Huang

Even though publications across the country have pledged to racially diversify their newsrooms, journalists in Boston believe there is a lack of effort among newsroom leadership to hire more people of color.

The shortcoming is reflected by the most recent statistics.

While nearly 40 percent of Americans are part of a minority group, the ASNE Newsroom Diversity Survey published last September shows only 21.9 percent of journalists in 2018 are minorities. Similarly, only 18.8 percent of news editors in 2018 are people of color.

Click here to view interactive image. Source: American Society of News Editors

Gary Washburn, the NBA reporter for The Boston Globe and print vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists, cites “discrimination [towards people of color, which is] sometimes intentional and direct” as one of the causes of this phenomenon.

Washburn also said, unlike many white college students, minority college students often cannot afford to intern for free and therefore do not have as much experience in the newsroom as their white counterparts. He said without intentional efforts, publications often hire white students because they are more experienced and fail to consider the financial hardships many students of color face.

“A lot of managers in newsrooms started when they were kids and then just work their way up. We [people of color] don’t generally get that opportunity,” he said, in regards to the shortage of minority managers in the newsroom. As an example, Washburn mentioned white students’ ability to work in newsrooms when they are still in high school.

He said a lot of editors who have promised to diversify their newsrooms do not go the extra mile to find candidates of color.

“They want the superstar to fall in their lap,” he said.

Jeremy Fox, a correspondent for the Globe and president of the Boston chapter of the Association of LGBTQ Journalists, said, in terms of hiring journalists of color and journalists with disabilities, “clearly there’s not being an effort made.”

Fox also said the Globe should have given star reporters of color, such as current CBS News’ national correspondent Wesley Lowery, more incentives to stay at the Globe instead of going to bigger publications.

Even in 2020, reporters are not seeing their newsrooms becoming more racially diverse.

“Maybe now with all this kind of commitment to diversify after the George Floyd murder,” Washburn said. “But I don’t really see it.”

Click here to view interactive image. Source: American Society of News Editors
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