2019 research: Local newsroom diversity

June 13, 2019 09:00

Highlights:
  • The percentage of women and people of color in TV newsrooms reached record highs for the second year in a row.
  • The percentage of local TV news directors of color is at the second highest level ever, down slightly from last year, but the number of general managers of color is up for the second year in a row.
  • There are more women in the local TV and radio news workforce and in leadership roles than ever.
  • The local radio workforce of color is the highest it’s been in more than 20 years – the third highest level ever – and the gap in representation is at a 14-year low.
  • The percentage of radio news directors of color is at the highest level in five years.
Contents:
People of Color in TV News  |  People of Color in TV News Leadership  |  Women in TV News  |  Women in TV News Leadership

 

Download TV Report (pdf)


People of Color in Radio News  |  Women in Radio News  |  Women and People of Color in Radio News Leadership

Download Radio Report (pdf) 


Local TV News
  • The percentage of women and people of color in TV newsrooms reached record highs for the second year in a row.
  • For the first time, more than a quarter of the local TV news workforce is people of color, and the gap in representation is at a 14-year low.
  • The percentage of local TV news directors of color is at the second highest level ever, down slightly from last year, but the number of general managers of color is up for the second year in a row.
  • There are more women in the local TV news workforce and in leadership roles than ever. 

People of Color in TV News

The latest RTDNA/Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University Annual Survey finds the percentage of people of color in local TV news rose to 25.9%, up 1.1 from last year’s record high. The workforce of people of color at non-Spanish language TV stations also again rose to the highest level ever.
 
Yet the bigger picture for people of color remains unchanged. In the last 29 years, the population of people of color in the U.S. has risen 12.8 points; but in TV news it is up just 8.1. Still, the gap in representation that widened after 2005 has steadily shrunk for the last three years.

Long-Term Trends in TV Diversity - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

People of color in TV news - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
Hispanics made the biggest gains in local TV newsrooms in 2019, followed by African Americans. Asian Americans and Native Americans both held steady after losing ground last year.
 
TV News Diversity by market

TV news diversity by staff size- 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
Almost all the metrics for people of color in TV news are up from a year ago. Every newsroom in the top 50 markets had at least one person of color and, on average, they were 30% people of color. Every Fox and non-commercial station had at least one staffer of color, and all the network affiliates were at least in the 90s. All had workforces of color of 20% or higher.
 
The smallest newsrooms are the least representative, but even a few newsrooms of up to 50 staff report not a single person of color on the news team.

TV news diversity by affiliation - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
People of color are best represented in top 25 markets. After that, it has become more and more even across market sizes and staff sizes.
 
Network affiliates came in at 22.8% people of color overall, up 1.4 from a year ago. All four network affiliate groups were between 22 and 23.5% people of color, while other commercial stations continue to be much more representative.
 
As usual, stations in the South and West were far more diverse than stations in the Northeast -- with the Midwest lagging well behind that.
 
Spanish-Language TV
 
Overall, 99.7% of the TV news workforce at Spanish-language stations are Hispanic, the highest the survey has recorded. The remaining 0.3 are Asian American. The survey found no African Americans, Caucasians or Native Americans at any Hispanic stations participating in this year's survey (though note 7.2% of Spanish-language stations responded on a later question that their News Directors are African American).
 
The percentage of people of color at non-Spanish language TV stations rose by 0.8 to 23.5%, the third record high in the last three years. African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans all made gains; Asian Americans lost ground slightly.

People of color in local TV - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
Women of Color
 
Historically, in TV, men have outnumbered women for all groups except Asian Americans (where women have always outnumbered men) and Native Americans (which have commonly been about even). But there have been some slow, steady changes in at least some of those ratios.
 
Women of color in TV news - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

This year, Native Americans in local TV are 59.4% men and 40.6% women. White newsroom staff are 57.6% men and 42.4% women. Hispanics are almost dead even at 50.4% men and 49.6% women. African American women outnumber men 53.6% to 46.4%. The greatest disparity between men and women has always been among Asian Americans, but less so today. Among Asian Americans, 60.5% are women and 39.7% are men.
 
Men of color outnumber women in top 50 markets, but women of color increasingly outnumber men in market sizes below that. Men of color also outnumber women in the very biggest newsrooms, but women of color outnumber men in all other newsroom sizes.
 
Interestingly, there are more Hispanic men than women in Spanish-language TV newsrooms, but the ratio reverses in non-Spanish language newsrooms.

People of Color in Local TV News Leadership

TV News Directors
 
The proportion of news directors of color edged down 0.2% from last year’s all-time high, making 2019 the second highest level ever.
 
TV news directors of color - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

2016, 2018 and 2019 have been the three best years ever for local TV news directors of color. But while the percentage of Hispanic news directors jumped 2.3 points this year, all other groups lost representation.
 
Public and non-network affiliated stations were well ahead of all others in percentage of news directors of color, and ABC and CBS affiliates lagged behind Fox and, especially, NBC affiliates. As usual, the Northeast ran well behind the South and West, with the Midwest at half the rate as the Northeast.

TV news directors of color - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
The percentage of news directors of color at non-Spanish language stations fell back a point from last year’s record 14.3% to this year’s 13.4%. African American news directors dropped back from last year’s record high 6.7% to 5.4%. Hispanic news directors set a new record of 6.9% -- almost 2 points higher than the previous record at non-Spanish language stations. Asian Americans dropped to 1.1% and the survey turned up no Native American news directors this year.
 
At Spanish-language stations, 92.3% of the news directors are Hispanic. The rest are African American. (Note that earlier I wrote that there were no African Americans at Spanish-language stations. Data for the two measurements come from separate questions, and when news directors don’t answer all the questions, we see these strange, sometimes contradictory results.)
 
 
TV General Managers
 
The proportion of TV general managers of color rose 1.6 overall to just over 10%, with the percentage at network affiliates increasing 1.4. Non-network affiliated stations led all others in numbers of general managers of color, and ABC and Fox affiliates trailed NBC and CBS. As always, the South and West led the way with the Northeast well behind and the Midwest barely in sight behind that.   
 
TV GMs - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

The percentage of general managers of color at non-Spanish-language stations rose again from 6.4% last year to 7.4% this year. Two-thirds are Hispanic, at 4.3%, up 0.1 from last year. The percentage of African American general managers doubled from 1.1 to 2.3, while a consistent 0.8% are Asian American. I found no Native American general managers. Just over two-thirds, 69.2%, of general managers at Spanish-language stations are Hispanic, up from a year ago. The rest are white.
 
General manager figures for TV are for stations that run local news. This data isn’t collected from others in the survey, so it's not possible to project these numbers to the general universe of TV stations.

Women in Local TV News

 The percentage of women in the local TV news workforce rose to 44.9% this year setting another new, record high with a 0.5% increase.
 
Women in local TV news - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
A growing discrepancy in the number of women in the workforce based on market size continues. Women make up 43% of the workforce in the top 50 markets, 45.4% of the workforce in markets 51 to 100, and 46.9% in markets 101+.
 
Geographic areas are getting a bit closer, with the West and South running about 3 points higher for women than the Northeast and Midwest. A year ago, it was a 4-point spread.
 
This year, 100% of all but the very smallest newsrooms have at least one woman on the news team.
 
Women in Local TV News Leadership
 
TV News Directors
For the third year in a row, the percentage of women TV news directors hit a new, record high – up from last year’s 34.3% to this year’s 35.3%. Note that the figure is a precise census number based on every TV station that runs local news (rather than projected from the sample of returned surveys).
 
Women news directors - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

Women news directors were most likely to be found in the biggest markets, and the percentage drops with almost every decline in market size. Women news directors are more often found in non-commercial stations; network and other commercial stations all have similar percentages, except CBS, which is lower than all the others. CBS affiliates lagged a year ago as well. Women news directors were again less likely to be found in the Northeast than any other region.
 
TV General Managers
Women general manager numbers soared to the highest level in the last 25 years, 23.4%, breaking the old mark set in 2014 by 3 points. And the percentage is even higher at network affiliates. They were highest at Fox affiliates and lowest at non-network affiliated commercial stations, CBS affiliates and in the Northeast.
 
Keep in mind that all the general manager figures for TV are for stations that run local news. I don't collect this data from others in the survey, so it's not possible to project these numbers to the general universe of TV stations.

TV GMs - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

Parity in the Workforce?
 
How close is local TV news to parity in the workforce? We still have a long way to go for people of color, but the industry appears to be just about at parity when it comes to women. Women make up 50.8% of the population and about 47% of the full time U.S. workforce. The unemployment rate is lower for women than men, more women chose to leave the workforce than men, and more women, who live longer on average than men, are no longer in the workforce, explaining the gap.
 
On the other hand, virtually all jobs in local TV news require a college degree. Women go to college in greater numbers than men, and they graduate in markedly greater numbers than men. The result is that if we look at the potential American workforce, ages 25 to 65, who have college degrees (or higher), we find that 53.5% of that workforce are women. By that measure, local TV news still has a way to go.

Women in the TV workforce - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

Local Radio News

  • The local radio workforce of color is the highest it’s been in more than 20 years – the third highest level ever – and the gap in representation is at a 14-year low.
  • The percentage of radio news directors of color is at the highest level in five years.
  • Overall, less than a quarter of radio newsrooms have at least one person of color, and commercial and smaller market radio stations are the least diverse.
  • Women made significant gains in local radio news, making up 44.4% of the workforce compared to last year’s 34.3%.
Diversity in local radio news - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra

People of Color in Radio News

The latest RTDNA/Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University Annual Survey finds the workforce of people of color in local radio news at its highest level in more than 20 years. However, the big, long term picture for people of color in local radio news still shows an industry well behind an ever-increasing population of people of color in the U.S.

People of color in local radio news - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
The workforce of color in radio shot up by 3.2 points. At 14.5%, the radio workforce of color is the highest it’s been in more than 20 years, and at its third highest. In 1998, it hit its all-time peak of 16%. Note that both of the previous record highs for people of color in radio news came before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the FCC’s EEO guidelines in Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod v. FCC.People of color in radio by affiliation - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra 

In a complete reversal from a year ago, the numbers are almost all up for people of color in local radio news. After falling by 2 points a year ago, the percentage of radio news staffs with people of color rose almost 8 points this year. The percentage of news directors of color is up by 2.3, and the workforce of color is at a 20+ year high.
 
As usual, the South and West led the way with the Midwest lagging well behind. Also as usual, non-commercial stations remain far more diverse than commercial ones, but all the numbers are up for both groups except the workforce of color which fell nearly 2 points at commercial stations.

People of color in radio news by market - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
Major markets are those with 1 million or more listeners. Large markets are from 250,000 to 1 million. Medium markets are 50,000 to 250,000. Small markets are fewer than 50,000.

Women in Local Radio News
 
In radio news, historically, there have been about twice as many men as women, but that changed dramatically this year. Men came in at 55.6% of the total with women at 44.4%. All the disparity comes from Caucasians where men outnumber women 1.5:1. Among people of color, women outnumber men except among Native Americans – who are even.   

women in radio news - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
The percentage of news staffs with women went up more than 4 points – although all of the increase came at non-commercial stations. That was also true of women as a percentage of the workforce – which jumped by 10 points.

women in radio news leadership - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
Women and People of Color in Local Radio News Leadership
 
Radio News Directors
News directors of color in radio hit the highest level in five years.
 
Radio news directors of color - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
Radio news directors of color jumped from 5.9% a year ago to 8.2% this year. That’s the highest level since 2014. All groups are better represented among radio news directors this year. Large markets led all other sizes, and the West and South led the Northeast and Midwest. Non-commercial stations were twice as likely as commercial ones to have news directors of color.

Radio news directors of color - 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
Women news directors are within a tenth of a point of where they were a year ago. Their percentage dropped in small and medium markets but rose in large and major ones. Women news directors remain much more common at non-commercial stations than commercial ones, although the margin got noticeably closer this year.

Diversity in radio news leadership 2019 RTDNA-Hofstra
 
Radio General Managers
 
Radio GMs - 2019 RTDNA-HofstraThe percentage of radio general managers of color went up 1.5 from a year ago, after going up 1.7 the year before. They were twice as likely to be found at non-commercial stations than at commercial ones, and in major and large markets and in the South. African American general managers came in at 2.8%, tied with Hispanic/Latinos at 2.8% and Native Americans at 1.3% and Asian Americans at 0.3%. All groups were up from a year ago except African Americans, who slid from 3.1 to 2.8.

The percentage of women general managers is steadily increasing: Up this year 2 points over 2018, which was up a point over 2017, which was up 2 points from 2016. Women general managers were slightly more common at commercial stations and much more common in major markets and the West.
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For More Information
 
Alliance for Women in Media (AWM)
202-750-3664
https://allwomeninmedia.org
 
Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
Phone: (415) 346-2051
www.aaja.org
 
The Association for Women in Communication (AWC)
Phone: (417) 886-8606
www.womcom.org
 
Emma L. Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media
www.emmabowenfoundation.com/
 
International Women’s Media Foundation
(202) 496-1992
www.iwmf.org
 
National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
Phone: (301) 405-0248
www.nabj.org
 
National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
www.nahj.org
 
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
Phone: (202) 588-9888
www.nlgja.org
 
Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
www.naja.com

About the Survey
The RTDNA/ Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University Survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2018 among all 1,685 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 3,481 radio stations. Valid responses came from 1,310 television stations (77.7%) and 645 radio news directors and general managers representing 1,938 radio stations. Some data sets (e.g. the number of TV stations originating local news, getting it from others and women TV news directors) are based on a complete census and are not projected from a smaller sample.

About Bob
Bob Papper is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Hofstra University and has worked extensively in radio and TV news. This research was supported by the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University and the Radio Television Digital News Association.

 





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