Looks like affirmative action, that controversial relic of the grunge era, is officially over in newspaperland.
For the third straight year the number of minorities in newsrooms across America declined, according to the latest American Society of News Editors survey. The average U.S. newsroom was 12.79 percent minority last year, down slightly from 2009.
Some of the fresh figures for minorities at our favorite L.A. area newspapers are surprising, too:
The Los Angeles Times, arguably the most-influential hard news source in L.A. if not the entire West Coast, reported that one of every five editorial employees is a person of color.
However, the percentage of Latinos on staff, in a county where about half of us have south-of-the-border ancestry, was only 6.8 percent.
Julio Moran, executive director of CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California (where this author is a board member), told us this:
It is frustrating to see that for the third straight year the percentage of journalists of color in newsrooms across the country has dropped while the overall percentage of the population in the country continues to grow. It appears that ASNE will not reach its goal of having the percentage of people of color working in newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of people of color in the nation's population by 2025. Our nation's newsrooms need to reflect the diversity of the communities they cover if they are to be accurate, credible and relevant.
Ya heard, L.A. Times?
Interestingly, the big dog was beaten in terms of percentages of Latinos on staff by the other big dailies in town — the Daily News and the Long Beach Press-Telegram. (Strangely, their parent company has a rep for being more “conservative” than the Times. Discuss).
The Daily News reports that its staff is 17 percent Latino, 2.4 percent African American and 2.4 percent Asian American. The P-T: 12.5 percent Latino, 6.3 percent African American and 6.3 percent Asian American.
The full numbers for the LAT: 10.5 percent Asian American, 3 percent African American and, yes, 6.8 percent Latino.
Props for the only big daily in town to even register a number for Native Americans, though: They make up 0.4 percent of the newsroom at the Times.
It is a society of newspaper editors we're talking about, and we think overall the numbers don't entirely reflect the reality of journalism.
Many of the business' newest jobs are online, at places like AOL's Patch and Yahoo News.
We're not sure if those places are more or less white than the rest of the business. But we do know that these kinds of surveys, and pressure from minority groups to, well, represent, have changed journalism for the better.
So it's time to put the spotlight on online-only outlets as well.
Meanwhile, seeing as LA Weekly is essentially a daily operation online, ASNE should include the Weekly in its next one. But our staff is so, well, efficient and compact, let's say, that our numbers might not make too much sense. For example, this here blog has true parity with the population it serves. It's half-Mexican. (Pats self on back).