Thursday :: May 13, 2004

All I Know I Read In The Newspaper

by pessimist

There has been a lot of discussion over why the American media seems so out of touch with anything but Republican talking points. A study of racial diversity just might point to why this is.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) recently completed a study of racial and ethnic diversity, as referenced by the newspaper's community, in newsroom staffing across the nation.

"This year only 13 percent of newspapers responding to the survey have reached ASNE's goal of parity between newsroom and community non-white percentages," says the study, which was commissioned by the Knight Foundation. That result is, however, up slightly from last year, when 11% of paper met parity, the study says.

OK, so progress is being made. How bad can it get?

The study also notes that these "all-white newsrooms" are not necessarily in all-white communities: "The list is led by The Independent, in Gallup, N.M., where the circulation area is 93 percent non-white."

If you're interested in the results of the study, you can find them here.

As the Republican Party secretly prides itself on being the Defender of WASP America, this has to ring a few alarm bells.

In order to take advantage of that opportunity, however, it is important to understand the ground upon which the battle over race is being waged. It is true that Republicans routinely win no more than 10% of the black vote and barely more than 30% of the Hispanic vote. But as UPI analyst Steve Sailer has noted, the recent Republican win was really the result of two factors.

First, as it normally does, the party received a sizable majority of the white vote, but perhaps even larger than in 2000. Second, the number of minority voters, blacks most importantly, dropped somewhat from the previous midterm election.

Sailer highlights the obvious but sometimes overlooked fact that the white vote is four times the size of the minority vote. He observes that "tiny changes in a party's performance among whites can easily outweigh in importance sizable changes among nonwhites." One could easily argue that Republicans ought not to concentrate on minority voters, but rather should emphasize issues that will invigorate the white vote.

If racial and ethnic diversity is such a low priority with America's newspapers, especially with the 374 daily newspapers which reported employing no journalists of color at all and the 481 dailies which did not respond to the ASNE survey, what can we expect when we look at political diversity?

David Brock in Blinded By The Right talks about the 'political correctness' standard that was applied to their news staff once it was taken over by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, during which anyone considered 'too liberal' was sent packing through harrassment or outright termination. We can't rule out that similar things didn't happen at some of the other 1,413 daily newspapers in the U.S. as well. If only 10% experienced this, it would be a significant change in the way the news is presented.

A lack of political diversity is one of the reasons the country has become mired deep in the Quag of Iraq. If it's important to have ethnic and racial diversity, it should be just as important to have political diversity. A free press cannot survive without it.

pessimist :: 8:16 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!