News staffing: Women up, minorities down


Women increased their share of jobs in newsrooms in both television and radio in 2009, according to a new study, but minorities lost ground after peaking in 2008. The study, produced annually, comes from RTNDA and Hofstra University. Women now hold 41.4% of TV news positions and 28.1% of all radio slots, and hold their own in the tally of news directors. However, minorities fell from 23.6% of total TV staff in 2008 to 21.8%, and went from 11.8% to 8.9% in the radio department.

“While the increase in the number of women serving as news director is encouraging, the drop in the percentage of minorities employed in newsrooms is not,” said RTNDA Chairman Stacey Woelfel. “It is my hope the gains made in the last few years to make our newsrooms more diverse were not lost in the recent economic downturn.  RTNDA is committed to working with our partners at the minority journalism associations to make sure all owners and managers know the value of putting more journalists of color in their newsrooms.”

African Americans make up 9.6% of television’s 21.8% minority census, followed by Hispanics (8.8%), Asian Americans (3.0%) and Native Americans (0.5%). The numbers for radio are African American (5.4%) Hispanics (2.3%), Asian Americans (0.6%) and Native Americans (0.6%).

The numbers are considerably lower when it comes to tallying minority news directors. On the television side, thanks no doubt to Univision, Entravision and similar companies, Hispanics hold the edge here with 6.0%, followed by African American (3.5%), Asian Americans (1.1%) and Native Americans (0.7%). On the radio side, Hispanics and Asian Americans are tied at 1.1%, while African American Native Americans were virtually invisible at 0.0%.

Women comprise 29.1% of all televison news directors, and are at their strongest in the top 25 DMAs, where their census is 37.0%. At radio, they comprise 27.7% of news directors, and are also strong in large markets, with 37.5%.

RTNDA/Hofstra also took a brief look at the GM population. At TV, the breakdowns were 96% Caucasian, 4% minority and 84.6% men, 15.4% women. Radio was slightly more balanced on both counts, standing at 94.7% Caucasian, 5.3% minority and 83.2% men, 16.8% women.

RBR/TVBR observation: Minority broadcast newsers had made big gains in 2008 – and at least they did not go under 2007 levels this time. But it was close at television, where their share of positions stood only 3% lower at 21.5%. Radio has a much more comfortable gap, 2.7% to the good compared to 2007’s 6.2% reading. But radio’s numbers are woefully inadequate compared to overall population statistics.