Ernie Suggs, left, Kathy Times andBarbara Ciara of NABJ meetwith ABC News President David Westin. (NABJ)
Ernie Suggs, left, Kathy Times andBarbara Ciara of NABJ meetwith ABC News President David Westin. (NABJ)

"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds that the percentage of minority news directors rose in both television and radio. But those were nearly the only positive numbers in the survey. Overall, the percentage of minorities in both radio and television fell for the third straight year, although the drop in TV was small," the Radio Television Digital News Association reported on Wednesday.


"Women in radio news rose slightly, but the percentage of women radio news directors went down, as did both the overall percentage of women in TV news and women TV news directors. The drop in women TV news directors was small, and the percentage of women TV news directors stands at the second-highest level ever.

" … the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 20 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 9.4 percent; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 2.4 percent, and the minority workforce in radio is actually half what it was two decades ago. Still, TV news diversity remains far ahead of newspaper."


The RTNDA study focused on local stations, not the networks. In a separate development at the network level, ABC News identified four people of color who have been named to senior producer positions since the National Association of Black Journalists met with ABC News President David Westin in 2008: Alvin PatrickSarah AmosJack Date and Catherine McKenzie.

Patrick, who is at Nightline, and McKenzie, of Good Morning America, are African American. Date works at This Week, and Amos at World News.

Westin announced this month he would step down. "As David mentioned, he has focused on the senior and executive producer positions because they have a strong impact on the editorial content of the programs," ABC spokeswoman Cathie Levine told Journal-isms.

A July 2008 study of network decision-makers by NABJ found that of the executive producers at ABC, six were white, two were Asian American and none was African American, Native American or Hispanic.


In the RTNDA study, survey coordinator Bob Papper noted that the minority population is projected to be at 35.3 percent in 2010, but the minority television workforce is at 20.2 percent and the minority radio workforce at 5 percent. He wrote:

"We end the decade with no gains whatsoever for minorities in TV news, and the percentage of minorities in radio news is down substantially.


"In TV, much of the drop in minority employment — and Hispanics specifically — came from a drop at Hispanic stations. Among non-Hispanic stations, minority employment slipped by just 0.3 percent to 19.3, down from last year's 19.6 percent.

"At non-Hispanic stations, the minority break down is:

** "10.3 percent African American (up from 9.8 percent)

** "5.7 percent Hispanic (down from 6.2 percent)

** "2.8 percent Asian American (down from 3.1 percent)

** "0.5 percent Native American (unchanged from a year ago)

"In radio, the percentage of minorities fell substantially. All groups dropped except Native American.


"The overall percentage of minority news directors in TV increased by almost two percent last year. It's still below the all-time high, but it's certainly among the highest percentages I've seen. Much of that was fueled by a jump in Asian American news directors.

"At non-Hispanic TV stations, the percentage of minority news directors rose from last year's 7 percent to 8.9 percent. That's just off the all time high of 9.1 percent two years ago. 3.2 percent were African American; 2.5 percent each for Hispanic and Asian American; and 0.7 percent Native American. That's about the same for African American and Native American and up for Hispanic and Asian American.


"The percentage of minority news directors in radio tripled from last year's paltry 2.2 percent to this year's 7 percent. All minority groups went up except Asian American, which slid slightly. Group-owned stations were less likely to have minority news directors than independent stations.

" … At 2.7 percent last year, it was hard to imagine that minority general managers (at network affiliates that run local news) could become even more white, but they did. Now, under 2 percent of those GMs are minorities. The overall percentage of minority went up slightly because minorities at independent stations went up. Among the network affiliates, ABC and NBC stations were much higher than CBS or Fox — but all were low."


Papper is the Lawrence Stessin distinguished professor of journalism and chair of the Department of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations at Hofstra University.

His 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)," he reported.

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