Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bad Year For Minorities In Broadcast Journalism

The minorities in the United States increased as a percentage of population from 2009to 2010, but at the same time, minority staffing in radio and television news departments was decreasing, and in neither case did the numbers reflect the total population, according to the latest RTDNA/Hofstra University study.

In 2010, minorities made up 35.3% of total population, but comprised only 20.2% of TV news staffing and an almost invisible 5% of radio staffing. The 2009 numbers were 34.4%, 21.8% and 8.9% respectively.

Hofstra’s Bob Papper, who directs the survey, observed, “Again, the percentage of minorities in television decreased from the year before. In fact, we end the decade with no gains whatsoever for minorities in TV news, and the percentage of minorities in radio news is down substantially.”

The minority figure is historically low: it stood at 7.9% in 2005, 10% in 2000, and 10.8% in 1990. Female employment, on the other hand, was relatively stable over that past decade, sitting at 21.2% in 2005 and 21% in 2000; and is still ahead of 1990’s 17.8%.

The drop-off in minorities from 2009 to 2010 occurred mainly among Hispanics on the TV side – they went from 8.8% to 5.8%. African Americans actually enjoyed a surge, improving from 9.6% to 11.5%. Asian Americans fell from 3% to 2.3% and Native Americans were stable at 0.5%. On the radio side, African Americans fell from 5.4% to 2.9%, Hispanics from 2.3% to 0.7%; and Asian Americans from 0.6% to 0.4%. However, Native Americans were able to buck the trend, improving from 0.6% to 1.1%.

Minorities enjoyed a slight gain when it comes to news directors, but were still well below percentage of population figures On the TV side, the Caucasian percentage fell from 88.8% to 86.9% from 2009 to 2010; on the radio side, Caucasians fell from 97.8% to 92.9%.

Women were present on 88% of television staffs and 40.9% of radio staffs, and held 28.4% and 18.1% of the news director posts respectively.

“Women have been right around the 40 percentage mark of the TV workforce for more than a decade. Last year, the number edged up to 41.4 percent, but this year it's back down to 40.0 percent. That could indicate that women in TV news lost their jobs at a higher rate than men, but it could also just be an anomaly in the numbers,” Papper said.

According to the survey, it was a mixed picture for women in radio news this year. The percentage of women in the radio workforce stayed essentially the same, up by 1.0 percent, and the percentage of stations with women rose by 10 percent, but the percentage of women radio news directors fell by nine percent.

Television station general managers were 94.7% Caucasian, and 92% Caucasian at surveyed radio stations.

Click here to read the entire survey:

About the Survey

The RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2009 among all 1,770 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 4,000 radio stations. Valid responses came from 1,355 television stations (76.6 percent) and 203 radio news directors and general managers representing 301 radio stations.


RTDNA is the world's largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. RTDNA represents local and network news executives in broadcasting, cable and digital media in more than 20 countries.

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