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New 2016 data shows a bright spot for newsroom diversity

The just-released ASNE census of newsroom diversity shows some types of news organizations managed to grow their number of minority employees in 2016, despite challenging conditions.

Many publishers above 25,000 circulation saw increases in minority employment despite losses or smaller gains in overall employment.

The trend, though short-term and not perfect, offers cause for optimism that some news organizations are making progress in adding employees from diverse backgrounds even as their staff sizes shrink. And one big caveat — in the nation’s smallest newsrooms diversity continues to be a big challenge and did not improve this year.

We can illustrate this in three charts.

First, let’s look at the overall change in full-time employees over the past year. Most types of legacy newsrooms saw declines, while online-only newsrooms grew 14 percent.

Circulation size / type of news organization Change in all employees
Online-only 13.89%
500k+ -8.35%
250-500k 2.69%
100-250k -8.17%
50-100k -16.80%
25-50k -8.28%
10-25k -4.13%
5-10k 1.61%
Under 5k -5.89%

Data Source: 2016 ASNE Diversity Survey

American Press Institute

Next, let’s look at the change in the number of minority full-time employees over the past year. Here we see modest or healthy increases among most legacy publishers with circulations above 25,000. The online-only publishers saw the strongest increase, 25 percent. Meanwhile the smallest publishers saw deep losses of minority employment.

Circulation size / type of news organization Change in minority employees
Online-only 25.52%
500k+ 4.41%
250-500k 8.42%
100-250k 3.13%
50-100k -4.50%
25-50k 15.65%
10-25k -15.28%
5-10k -38.47%
Under 5k -46.67%

Data Source: 2016 ASNE Diversity Survey

American Press Institute

Putting them together for easier contrast, we see that many publishers above 25,000 circulation saw increases in minority employment despite losses or smaller gains in overall employment. That fact at least is a welcome achievement, though clearly work remains to be done.

Circulation size / type of news organization Change in minority employees Change in all employees
Online-only 25.52% 13.89%
500k+ 4.41% -8.35%
250-500k 8.42% 2.69%
100-250k 3.13% -8.17%
50-100k -4.50% -16.80%
25-50k 15.65% -8.28%
10-25k -15.28% -4.13%
5-10k -38.47% 1.61%
Under 5k -46.67% -5.89%

Data Source: 2016 ASNE Diversity Survey

American Press Institute

This data is based on ASNE’s annual census of newsroom employment, and these year-to-year comparisons in particular rely upon the 433 news organizations who responded to the survey in both 2015 and 2016.

We here at API continue to work on helping newsrooms achieve diversity necessary to better reflect, understand, and serve the many types of people in their communities. Earlier this year we partnered with Temple University to hold a summit of leading thinkers on how news organizations can serve diverse communities. We provide support for ASNE’s Emerging Leaders Institute and the Journalism and Women Symposium conference, among other efforts.

We are looking for more promising ideas and partners in addressing these issues. Please get in touch if you know of an approach, a program, or a line of research that could aid this cause.

You can read more from ASNE about their full set of findings on newsroom diversity, including gender diversity and the diversity of senior management.

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