Newsrooms continue to cut jobs, struggle with diversity

America’s newsrooms continue to shed jobs despite the uptick in the economy and reader boom in Trump-related stories, according to the latest industry report.

What’s more, the media is still struggling with diversifying their staffs, and many won’t even reveal the racial and gender mix of their team, according to 2018 American Society of News Editors Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey.

“There’s good news if you look at some modest diversity gains among participants, but bad as an indicator that many editors seem not to have the time to provide results or don’t care,” said Poynter’s write-up of the ASNE report.

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The group was so upset with the lack of newsroom candor about diversity, that it issued a scolding to the wide majority of media operations that refused to answer its survey. Just 17 percent of 1,700 newsrooms responded to the annual survey, and those that did likely have a diverse enough staff to brag about.

“While we are discouraged by this year’s low participation rate, the demographic data from participating organizations, particularly online-only organizations, is encouraging,” said Meredith Clark, lead researcher and an assistant professor at the University of Virginia.

“A survey can only measure progress among those who responded, and for that reason, we hope to find a way to improve participation in the coming year,” said ASNE President Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president for news and editorial director. “Nonetheless, it is gratifying to see signs of progress among these 293 newsrooms, which included some of the oldest brands and some of the newer brands in the business.”

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Those 293 newsrooms, which included the Washington Post and USA Today, reported a staff drop of 505 and even more layoffs, a continuing trend. It is likely that the number is much higher.

The report said that over the last decade, 32,000 of 55,000 news staffers — 58 percent — have been cut.

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On the diversity front, those that did answer the survey reported some gains in hiring women and racial minorities.

Key points from the report:

  • People of color comprised 22.6 percent of employees reported by all newsrooms in our survey, compared to 16.5 percent in 2017. Among daily newspapers, about 22.2 percent of employees were racial minorities (compared to 16.3 percent in 2017), and 25.6 percent of employees at online-only news websites were minorities (compared to 24.3 percent in 2017).
  • Women made up more than a third of newsroom employees overall (41.7 percent in 2018 compared to 39.1 percent in 2017). Women comprised 41.2 percent of daily newspaper employees in this year’s survey (compared to 38.9 percent in 2017) and 47.8 percent of online-only news organization employees, holding steady from 2017.
  • Among respondents, the industry lost a net of 505 journalism jobs last year.
  • Of all newsroom managers, 19 percent were minorities (compared to 13.4 percent in 2017), and 41.8 percent were women (compared to 38.9 percent in 2017).


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