RTDNA Research 2015: Minority numbers slide, women make gains

July 20, 2015 01:30

By Bob Papper, Professor Emeritus - Hofstra University
This is the ninth in a series of reports developed from RTDNA's annual survey of newsrooms across the United States. Topics in the series include story coverage, what's new online, social media and mobile strategies, television and radio technology, budgets and profits, stations doing news, news director profiles, and our most popular areas of research; newsroom salaries, women and minorities in newsrooms, and broadcast newsroom staffing. A new report will be issued each week through the end of July. 

Women and minorities research highlights:
  • Mixed minority numbers in TV
  • Mostly down minority numbers in radio
  • Record numbers of women in TV and women in TV news leadership
The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds the minority workforce in TV news slid 0.2 to 22.2%... still the third highest level ever. And the minority workforce at non-Hispanic TV stations rose this year to the third highest level ever as well.
The minority workforce in radio fell back from last year's high.
In TV, women news directors and women in the workforce both rose to the highest levels ever. The picture for women in radio news was more mixed.
Still, as far as minorities are concerned, the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 25 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 11.5 points; but the minority workforce in TV news is up less than half that (4.4), and the minority workforce in radio is actually down by a full point.

The minority workforce in local television news slid slightly (0.2 points) to 22.2%. Even down a hair, that's still the third highest level ever. African Americans and Asian Americans both went up by 0.4. Hispanics dropped from last year's all time high of 9.1, and Native Americans slid by 0.1. Minority percentages are highest in the top 25 markets (29.1%), dropping fairly steadily, as usual, to the smallest markets (14.2%). Minorities are highest at the smallest stations -- which include Hispanic stations and independents -- but are relatively evenly spread across other newsroom sizes. Fox affiliates used to lead all others in staff diversity, but that's no longer the case. In fact, Fox came in lowest of the four big networks -- with CBS affiliates on top. As usual, the Northeast and especially the Midwest lagged in diversity behind the South and West. 
The minority workforce in radio fell by 3.2... with all minority groups dropping except Asian Americans. The biggest fall came among Hispanic/Latino. Non-commercial stations did a little better in diversity than commercial ones, but the differences weren't large. The bigger the market, the more diverse the radio news staff. The Midwest lagged behind all other areas of the country, as it usually does.
After three years of small declines, the minority percentage at non-Hispanic TV stations rose more than a point to 20.3%. That's the highest level since 2006, and the third highest level ever. African American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian American all went up from last year; Native American fell slightly. 
At non-Hispanic stations, the minority breakdown is:
  • 11.1% African American (up from 10.7%)
  • 5.9% Hispanic (up from 5.3%)
  • 2.9% Asian American (up from 2.6%)
  • 0.3% Native American (down from 0.4%)
Overall, 83.5% of the TV news workforce at Hispanic stations are Hispanic. That's up from last year's 78%. Another 16% are white; 0.4% are black; the survey found no Asian Americans or Native Americans at any Hispanic stations participating in this year's survey. 
Historically, in TV, men have outnumbered women for all groups except Asian Americans (where women have always outnumbered men) and Native American (which have commonly been about even). That's been true for the 21 years I've been doing this research, but it's been changing over the last two years. 
As usual, the most striking disparity between men and women is among whites, where there are 60% more men than women (that's largely unchanged from the historical disparity -- at least the last 20 - 30 years). Then come Hispanics, where there are 19% more men than women. Last year, for the first time, African American women outnumbered African American men. This year, the gap widened a bit more. Still, African American men outnumber the women in top 25 markets. There are 33% more Asian American women than men, but that's actually closer to even than it's been in the past. Native American women edged Native American men, but the difference is quite small.
In radio news, overall, there are almost twice as many men as women... with the highest disparity among whites and Native Americans. African American women outnumber the men, and Hispanics were dead even.

After three years of growth in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the percentage of minority news directors at non-Hispanic stations fell for the fourth year in a row. Three years ago, 10.7% of TV news directors at non-Hispanic stations were minorities; two years ago that dropped to 9.5%; last year it fell to 8.6%; this year, it's down to 8.3%. Half (4.2%) of those were African American -- about the same as last year; 1.9% were Hispanic -- down another 0.6 from a year ago; 1.9% were Asian American -- up half a point; and 0.4% were Native American -- exactly the same as a year ago. Three-quarters of the news directors at Hispanic stations were Hispanic; 18.2% were Caucasian, and 6.2% were African American.
After four years of growth, the percentage of minority news directors in radio plunged by the biggest one-year fall I can remember: six and a half points. Every ethnic group went down, and Asian American disappeared. There was little difference by grouping, but the survey didn't turn up a single minority radio news director in markets of 50,000 or fewer people. In the past, minority radio news directors were more common at public stations and in the biggest markets. It is true that the bigger the market, the higher the percentage of minority news directors, but this year all market sizes were below 10%, and public stations were no higher than commercial ones.

Minorities, generally, were less likely at Fox affiliates and stations in the Northeast and especially the Midwest. Interestingly, stations in all geographic areas are just about equally likely to have one or more minorities on staff. It's just that stations in the Northeast and Midwest have a lot fewer of them. Minority news directors were more likely at ABC and NBC stations... less likely at CBS and Fox affiliates. And, as usual, less likely in the Midwest. 

Virtually every number in the radio table above is down from last year: news staffs with minorities, minority news directors, minority percentage of workforce and actual number of minorities. The bigger the market, the more diverse, but all the numbers fell from last year. Non-commercial stations did better in percent of news staffs with minorities and percentage of minority workforce, but were a little lower in minority news directors. The Midwest lagged behind all other regions in every category. As usual.

Women TV news directors edged up from last year's record high 30.8% to a new record of 31%. 
At 42.3%, women are at the highest percentage of the TV news work force ever. Those of you who memorize these reports may remember that I noted what appeared to be a growing discrepancy in the size of the female workforce based on market size. That appeared to shrink two year ago, but it was back more sharply than ever last year and continues to grow this time around. Women make up 38.8% of the workforce in the top 50 markets, but they make up 44.6% of the workforce in markets 51+ and 45.3% in markets 101+. Affiliation and geography make relatively little difference in the numbers. That suggests the possibility that women are entering TV news at a much higher rate than in the past (relative to men).  Something to keep an eye on.
Note that the overall percentage of women TV news directors comes from a complete census of all TV news directors. All the subsets on the data come from the survey itself. For survey buffs (both of you), a smaller percentage of women TV news directors return the survey compared to men. For whatever the reason, that's been true every single year since I started the census calculation in 2002.

In radio, women rose in two of the three categories: News staffs with women rose by more than 5 points, and women as a percentage of the  workforce went up by 8.1 to its highest level ever at 39.2%. Non-commercial stations employed women at about twice the rate as commercial stations.
The percentage of women news directors in radio went down by 3.1 in the last year. For the second year in a row, women were almost twice as likely to be news directors at public stations than commercial ones. Women were, again, much less likely to be news directors in the South
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.

Minority general managers in TV recovered almost half of the 2.4 points lost a year ago -- up 1.1 overall and 1.5 among network affiliates. Minority GMs were a bit more likely to be found at NBC stations and less likely to be found at stations in the West and especially the Midwest.
Minority general managers at non-Hispanic stations regained most of last year's loss. Last year, the percentage fell from 5.8% to 3.6%. This year, it's back up to 5.3%.  African American and Hispanic were tied at 2.4% each with Asian American picking up the rest at 0.4%. A majority (53.3%) of the general managers at Hispanic stations were Hispanic; the rest (46.7%) were white.. 
Last year women general managers rose by 2.6; this year, the number fell by 3.1. All groupings fell about the same except markets 26 - 50 -- which went up. Women GMs were more likely found at CBS and then ABC stations and least likely to be found at other commercial stations, non-commercial stations and stations in the Midwest and, especially, 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 data from others in this survey, so it's not possible to project these numbers to the general universe of TV stations.

After two years of increases, minority general managers in radio dropped by 5 points from last year, and I found no Asian Americans or minority GMs in the Midwest. Women general managers slid 0.8 from last year, and there are way fewer of them in the smallest markets (50,000 and fewer) than anywhere else.
Newspapers and TV
The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) has changed its survey schedule, and new results are not expected until sometime this summer. Last year's numbers from ASNE found that minority journalists make up 13.3% of newsroom employees at daily newspapers. That was up nearly a point from the year before. As with TV, the percentage of minorities in newspaper has changed little in more than a decade.

I'll update the comparison between TV and newspaper on the RTDNA website as soon as ASNE releases the 2015 numbers.
For More Information
Alliance for Women in Media (AWM)
Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
Phone: (415) 346-2051
Fax: (415) 346-6343
Association for Women in Communication (AWC)
Phone: (703) 370-7436
Fax: (703) 342-4311
Emma L. Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media
Phone: (212) 664-3773
International Women’s Media Foundation
(202) 496-1992
National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
Phone: (301) 405-0248
Fax: (301) 314-1714
National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
Phone: (202) 662-7145
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
Phone: (202) 588-9888
Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
Phone: (405) 325-1649
Fax: (405) 325-6945
UNITY Journalists for Diversity
Phone: (414) 335-1478

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.
About the Survey
The RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2014 among all 1,688 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 3,704 radio stations.  Valid responses came from 1,281 television stations (75.9%) and 316 radio news directors and general managers representing 868 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.