Evaluating print and broadcast news in the San Francisco Bay Area from A to F.

 

 

How Newsroom Diversity Came to Matter
Commentary by Dori J. Maynard


In many ways the story starts in the mid-1960s, when the civil rights movement was morphing into the black consciousness movement. The story was huge. It had to be covered. Black reporters could get parts of it that white reporters could not. Black journalists suddenly found themselves in demand on white-owned newspapers. The change didn't happen because it was morally correct or a good marketing strategy. There wasn't time to worry about such niceties.


By 1978, a handful of African-American journalists had convinced key members of the American Society for Newspaper Editors to begin the annual ritual of counting journalists by race. The goal was for the nation's newsrooms to mirror the nation's society by the year 2000. The annual census would measure our steady progress.


Then the fires died, both literally and figuratively. We forgot why the numbers mattered. We argued it was simply "the right thing to do." We argued it was good business. But we forgot the truth of the heart of argument. Newspapers simply will not cover this nation well if they aren’t as American as America, if they don’t reflect America, if they don’t have access to all corners of American life.


Yes, there has been progress. In 1978, journalists of color were 4 percent of the workforce. Last year, they were 12 percent. Still, in 2003 -- three years after we missed the mark and set a new goal -- to look at the numbers is to know we failed. “Diversity fatigue” reflects that feeling of failure. Journalists of color are frustrated that the industry could not make good on its promise. Newspaper editors are frustrated because they do not get credit for progress made.

--reprinted with permission from the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

 

What do you think? Discuss it in The Coffeehouse.

WEEKLY UPDATES

More...
A project of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University, Grade the News is affiliated with the Graduate Program in Journalism at Stanford University and KTEH, public television in Silicon Valley.

Monitoring the Bay Area's most popular news media:

Contra Costa Times

Knight Ridder

San Francisco Chronicle

Hearst

San Jose Mercury News

Knight Ridder

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KTVU, Oakland (FOX)

KRON, San Francisco

KRON, San Francisco

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KPIX, San Francisco (CBS)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KGO, San Francisco (ABC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)

KNTV, San Jose (NBC)

 

Bay Area media advocates:

Media Alliance
Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism at SFSU
Maynard Institute
Youth Media Council
Project Censored
New California Media
Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter
National Writers Union Bay Area chapter

Site highlights

THE GROWTH OF FREE NEWSPAPERS

The three-part series follows the rise of three Bay Area handouts:
• Part 1: At free dailies, advertisers sometimes call the shots
• Part 2: Free daily papers: more local but often superficial
• Part 3: Free papers' growth threatens traditional news
• See also: SF Examiner and Independent agree to end payola restaurant reviews
• And: The free tabloid that wasn't: East Bay's aborted Daily Flash

FATE OF KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

Lou Alexander started a firestorm with his original guest commentary predicting the company would be sold. Several other experts on newspapers have weighed in:
Newspapers can't cut their way back into Wall Street investors' hearts, by Stephen R. Lacy; Alexander responds
Humbler profits won't encourage buyouts, by John Morton; Alexander responds
Newspapers can't maintain monopoly profits because they've lost their monopolies, by Philip Meyer
Knight Ridder in grave jeopardy, by Lou Alexander...

KQED-FM AUDIO PERSPECTIVES BY JOHN MCMANUS

Leakers and plumbers: There's no difference between a good leak and a bad leak? Journalists need a shield law. 11/22/05
Unintended consequences: How Craigslist and similar services are sucking revenue from faltering newspapers. 9/13/05
Is CPB irrelevant? As Congress moves to cut public broadcasting funds, has CPB become obsolete in the modern marketplace. 6/26/05
The paradox of news: There's more news available and its cheaper than ever before, but fewer young people are interested. 5/12/05

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Most recent updatesHow the Bay Area's most popular media stack up.Talk about Bay Area journalism in our on-line discussion forum. A printable news scorecard you can use at home or in school. Raves and rants aimed at the local media. What would you do if you were the editor? Upcoming happenings and calls for public action. Let 'em know! Contact a local newsroom.Codes of ethics, local media advocates and journalism tools. Tip us off about the local media, or tell us how we're doing.Oops.A comprehensive list of past GTN exclusives.