Will Mainstream Media Outlets Respond to Diversity Survey?

ASNE To Try Again on Online Diversity Survey

The American Society of News Editors, which received only seven responses after asking, it said, 28 online organizations to respond to its annual diversity survey, will "do a new census," according to ASNE President Milton Coleman.

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Coleman told Journal-isms he hoped to have the survey completed by the end of the summer and that it would be overseen by Bobbi Bowman, the former diversity director at ASNE who has conducted the previous censuses, and the co-chairs of ASNE's Diversity Committee, Karen Magnuson of the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., and Ronnie Agnew of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.

ASNE has surveyed print newspapers since it set a goal in 1978 of having the nation's newspaper newsrooms reflect the racial demographics of the country. It later extended the survey to include the online operations at newspapers.

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The organization reported in April that, "For the first time, ASNE also surveyed the staffs at 28 online only newspapers," but that "Only 25 percent returned their survey forms, compared to a nearly 65 percent response rate for daily newspapers."

At least five online news operations — Slate; the Daily Beast; TPM Media LLC, which publishes the Talking Points Memo; the Salon Media Group and National Public Radio — said they did not remember receiving the request.

In addition, journalist David Cay Johnston wrote that Brant Houston of the Investigative News Network told him "he wants the opportunity to answer the survey questions."

On the other hand, a spokeswoman for Yahoo told Journal-isms flatly, "We do not release our diversity statistics."
Anthony Moor of Yahoo is an ASNE board member.

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So is Politico's editor-in- chief, John F. Harris, who has said, 'Our corporate policies don't allow me to release numerical data."

And the Labor Department confirmed last month that Yahoo, Google and three other Silicon Valley companies felt so strongly about not disclosing the information that they persuaded federal officials two years ago to block public disclosure. Moreover, the Labor Department agreed that to be forthcoming would be revealing "trade secrets."

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AOL, which now claims to employ 4,000 journalists, 3,500 of whom are part-time or freelance, was another operation listed as not responding to the ASNE survey. Nor has it answered inquiries from Journal-isms about the diversity among its journalists. The Web site for the "AOL News Team" shows 19 writers and editors who all appear to be white, with people of color among the "contributors."

Coleman said that ASNE's initial 2010 survey "came when the organizational staff was in transition. We don't think it was a good survey, a telling survey. We may not have had the best lists and the best conditions. We seek people's help," he said, as ASNE "casts a much broader net."

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Coleman, senior editor at the Washington Post, stressed that ASNE discloses only percentages and not actual numbers and that ASNE considered the survey essential to measuring progress on diversity as news is delivered on a growing number of platforms.

Which Online News Sites Responded; Which Didn't (April 11)

Was New Ebony Editor Really a First? It Depends.

In announcing the appointment of Amy DuBois Barnett this week as the new editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine, Johnson Publishing Co. said, "Barnett held top masthead positions at Teen People, entering history books as the first African-American woman in the country to head a major mainstream consumer magazine."

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It was a description that had been used before. In 2008, the Associated Press called Barnett's 2003 hiring as editor of Teen People "another milestone — she was the first black woman to head a major mainstream magazine."

For at least one alert reader, the Johnson news release statement set off an alarm: What about the other black women who had edited mainstream magazines?

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1988: Audreen Ballard, executive editor of the then-new Lear's magazine, founded by Frances Lear, former wife of television producer Norman Lear.

1988: Marcia Ann Gillespie, executive editor of Ms. magazine, later editor-in-chief.

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1995: Sheryl Hilliard Tucker named editor of Your Company, a controlled-circulation small-business quarterly published by Money magazine and American Express Publishing Corp. She rose to become one of two executive editors of Time Inc.

1999: Corynne Corbett, promoted from executive editor to editor-in-chief at Mode, magazine for full-figured women. She went on to become executive editor at Real Simple and is now beauty director at Essence.

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"By 'head' we mean 'Editor-in-Chief,' not Executive Editor," Johnson Publishing spokeswoman Wendy E. Parks told Journal-isms. "In Time Inc. nomenclature, the Managing Editor is the EIC. That's why the release carefully stated 'major mainstream consumer.' "

But wasn't Tucker the top editor and didn't Corbett and Gillespie hold the title of editor-in-chief? "'Major mainstream consumer' is defined as not controlled circulation or niche," Parks replied. "Teen People had a circ of 1.5 million and a readership of 12 million. But, I really hope in your reporting that you mention that the bottom line for Amy DuBois Barnett is that she deeply respects her colleagues in the industry and their related accomplishments. Each woman you’ve mentioned has helped to strengthen the industry overall in various meaningful ways."

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"I congratulate her," Gillespie, who now consults and is working on a book, told Journal-isms.

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