Women, minorities make newsroom gains

July 28, 2014 01:30

Updated: July 29, 2014 with new data from ASNE

By Bob Papper, Professor Emeritus - Hofstra University
An introductory note, if you will.  2014 marks my 20th year conducting the RTDNA (before that, RTNDA) Annual Survey. First at Ball State University and now at Hofstra University. It has been my privilege to do this, and I want to thank RTDNA, Ball State and Hofstra for the support and opportunity to keep this going. Most of all, I want to thank all of you who spend what I know is way too much time poring over the way too many questions that I ask on this survey. Thank you.
- Bob Papper 

  • Mostly up numbers for minorities in TV
  • Record number of women TV news directors
  • Most minority numbers in radio are up

The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds the minority workforce in TV news, at 22.4%, the highest it's been in 13 years and the second highest level ever.
The minority workforce in radio rose to the highest level since in the mid-1990s. 
In TV, women news directors rose to the highest percentage ever, and women in the workforce rose to the second-highest level 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 24 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 11 points; but the minority workforce in TV news is up less than half that (4.6), and the minority workforce in radio is up 2.2.

At 22.4%, the minority workforce in TV news is the highest it's been in 13 years and the second highest ever.  Both African Americans and Hispanics showed gains from a year ago, while Asian Americans fell and Native Americans remained unchanged.  Minority percentages are highest in the top 25 markets (32.1%), dropping steadily to the smallest markets (13.6%).  Minorities are highest at the smallest stations -- which include Hispanic stations and independents -- but are relatively evenly spread across other newsroom sizes.  Historically, Fox affiliates have led all others in staff diversity, but that's no longer the case.  All the network affiliates were pretty close this year.  As usual, the Northeast and Midwest lagged in diversity behind the South and West. 
The minority workforce in radio rose to the highest level since in the mid-1990s.  African American, Hispanic American and Native American all went up; Asian Americans fell.
The minority percentage at non-Hispanic TV stations fell from 19.7% two years ago to 19.4% last year to 19% this year. 
At non-Hispanic stations, the minority breakdown is:
  • 10.7% African American (up from 10.2%)
  • 5.3% Hispanic (down from 5.5%)
  • 2.6% Asian American (down from 3.3%)
  • 0.4% Native American (unchanged from last year)

Overall, 78% of the TV news workforce at Hispanic stations are Hispanic.  That's down from last year's 89.1%.  Another 16.5% are white; 3.7% are black; 0.2% are Asian American; and 1.6% are Native Americans.
Minority numbers in radio are up pretty much all across the board.  What you cannot see is that those minority numbers are two to three times as high for non-commercial stations as for commercial ones.  That's what makes the real difference in those numbers this year.
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 20 years I've been doing this research.  Until this year.  For the first time, black women outnumber black men.  It's close, and black men still outnumber black women in top 25 markets, but, overall, the balance has tipped. 
As usual, the most striking disparity is among whites, where there are 54% more men  than women (although that's down from last year's 60%).  Then comes Hispanics, where there are 39% more men than women -- up from last year's 17%.  As market size drops, the ratio of Hispanic women to men tends to increase.  That's because there are fewer Hispanic stations in smaller markets, and Hispanic stations tend to be overwhelmingly male -- by about a 2:1 margin.
There are 50% more Asian American women than men.  That's a greater spread than last year but lower than historical 2:1 levels. Native American numbers remained even.

Little change overall in minority TV news directors -- up just 0.2 from a year ago.  But African American news directors hit the highest level ever -- at 4.3%.  Hispanic news directors maintained their highest level ever, overall, at 7.7%.  Both Asian American and Native American TV news directors fell back.  African American news directors were spread across most market sizes and staff sizes, but Hispanic news directors were found mostly in the biggest markets at the smallest stations.  As usual, the Midwest lagged behind all other regions in news director diversity, and Fox affiliates lagged behind all other network affiliates.  Again this year, I found no minority news directors among non-commercial TV stations. 
After three years of growth, the percentage of minority news directors at non-Hispanic stations fell for the second year in a row.  Two years ago, 10.7% of TV news directors at non-Hispanic stations were minorities; last year that dropped to 9.5% and this year down to 8.6%.  Exactly half (4.3%) of those were African American -- up a point from a year ago; 2.5% were Hispanic -- down 0.8 from a year ago; 1.4% were Asian American -- down a point; and 0.4% were Native American -- down 0.3.
The percentage of minority news directors in radio rose by 2 points from last year; that's the fourth year in a row that the percentage has gone up.  All groups went up except black -- which stayed the same.  Native American shot up to a surprising all time high of 4.5%.  Minority news directors were far more common at public radio stations, in bigger markets and everywhere except the Northeast.

Most of these numbers look a lot like last year.  News staffs with minorities slid slightly from a year ago (from 92.4 to 90.2), and there are still newsrooms with over 20 and even 30 staffers with no minorities.  Minority news directors in top 25 markets went up by more than 7 points, but all other market sizes except 101 - 150 went down.  As usual, the minority percentage of the workforce goes down as market size goes down.  Fox affiliates, which have historically had a more diverse workforce and more minority news directors lagged all the other affiliates in most categories this year. 

All the diversity trend lines in radio were better this year.  The percentage of news staffs with minorities went up 5 points over a year ago; minority news directors rose by 2; the minority workforce went up by just over 2.

The overall percentage of women TV news directors set a new record at 30.8%.  That's 0.6 higher than the previous record set two years ago.
The real story may be that women TV news directors are more pervasive across most of the market and staff sizes rather than being marginalized in smaller newsrooms or smaller markets.  In fact, women news directors are more likely to be found in the three largest sizes of newsrooms than in the two smaller ones.  This year, women news directors are about as common in markets 26 - 50 as women in the workforce in TV news overall.  That's the closest to real equality that I've seen.  Women are a little more likely to be news directors at ABC and CBS affiliates than at Fox or NBC stations ... and noticeably less likely to be found in the Northeast than anywhere else in the country.
Those of you who memorize these reports may remember that for a couple of years -- until last year -- there appeared to be a growing discrepancy in the size of the female workforce based on market size.  That appeared to shrink last year, but it's back more sharply than ever this time around.  Women make up 38.7% of the workforce in the top 50 markets, but they make up 44.1% of the workforce in markets 101+.  Three years ago I suggested that perhaps either more women were losing their jobs in the economic downturn ... or more women were leaving the business before moving up into the largest markets.  It remains an issue worth looking at.
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.

The percentage of women news directors in radio went up by 2.5 in the last year.  A year ago, women were pretty close as news directors in commercial and non-commercial stations.  Not this year.  Women were almost twice as likely to be news directors at public stations.  Women were much less likely to be news directors in the smallest markets and in the South.  News staffs with women stayed largely the same.  Women as a percentage of the workforce fell from last year's 34.2% to this year's 31.1%. Again, non-commercial stations employed a higher percentage of women than commercial stations.
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.

Led by a huge jump in markets 26 - 50, women TV general managers rose by 2.6 points to the highest level ever.  The percentage was even higher among network affiliates -- especially at NBC and Fox stations.  The Northeast has less than half the percentage of women GMs as all the rest of the country.
While women made strong gains as general managers, minorities did not.  Minority GMs fell 2.4 points -- almost all of that among network affiliates.  ABC affiliates -- at 1.5% minority general managers -- was markedly lower than the others.
Minority general managers at non-Hispanic stations also fell from a year ago -- from 5.8% last year to 3.6% this year.  That's not the worst it's been in recent years -- but it's close.

This is the second year in a row for an increase in the percentage of minority radio general managers.  They're up from last year's 8.2% to this year's 9.9%.  All of the gains came from non-commercial stations.  After dropping about 5 points last year, women radio general managers are back up 4 points.  Again, the increase all came among non-commercial radio stations. 
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.

Newspapers and TV - UPDATED with 2014 ASNE data
The 2014 survey by The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) found that minority journalists make up 13.3% of newsroom employees at daily newspapers. That’s up nearly a point from last year's 12.4%.

In both newspaper and TV, African Americans and Hispanics went up, and Native Americans stayed the same.  In newspaper, Asian Americans held steady, but they dropped in TV.  Women rose slightly in both newspaper and TV, and the 4-point gap between newspaper and TV remained exactly the same. 
Overall, the gap between newspaper and TV remains about the same. As with TV, the percentage of minorities in newspaper has changed little in more than a decade.
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: (202) 524-6409
Fax: (202) 524-6411
International Women’s Media Foundation
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: (703) 854-3585
Fax: (703) 854-3586

RTDNA Diversity Toolkit

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 2013 among all 1,659 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 3,263 radio stations. Valid responses came from 1,300 television stations (78.4%) and 249 radio news directors and general managers representing 649 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.