When the word diversity is brought up, hiring managers run to their desktops and examine all of
their numbers to see if they’re doing their job. However, the cat is out of the bag for newsrooms.
For every 100 people in the newsrooms 87.3 percent are white according to an interactive on
Poynter based off of a study released by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE).
Whatever they were doing is not working. Newsrooms are just simply not reflective of the world
we live in.
This weekend at the Online News Association conference in Los Angeles, the non-profit
organization attempted to highlight this issue by hosting a number of panels and even workshops
discussing what can be done to improve diversity in newsrooms and other media entities.
“The first thing is having awareness of your unconscious bias. If upper management, let’s say
hypothetically is upper age white males, they’re probably going to hire someone who looks like
them. When you meet someone, you’re looking for connections, they’re looking at ‘oh we went
to the same school’, ‘do we shop at the same market?’” Hugo Balta, a hiring manager and senior
director of multicultural content digital & print media at ESPN said.
“If ESPN is going to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace, then it needs to be
reflective of the increasing numbers of our multicultural audience. The best way to do that is
ensure the decision makers and content creators are a part of those communities.”
According to the ASNE, as of July 28, about 12 percent of journalists in newsrooms are
minorities. The report also claims that 63 percent of newsrooms’ top three editors are women.
ONA prides itself with the diversity of conference speakers this year with 52 percent women, 36
percent people of color, 25 percent local news and eight percent international representation.
This is a perfect example of showing the diversity is more than just race. Diversity includes
ethnicity, age, disabilities, religion, socio economic background, and much more.
“Not all smart people look like me. I don’t have all the wisdom. One of the things I look for
when I hire someone is somebody who can teach me something that I don’t know.” Emmanuel
Touhey a hiring manager at CNN’s C-Span said.
“I don’t want people who agree with me because that’s boring. I want people who are going to
When the L.A. Times made a move to attempt to become more culturally inclusive of minorities
about two months ago, the internet went crazy. Headlines scattered across social media reading,
“L.A. times hires #BlackTwitter writer”. Though he writes about more than just #BlackTwitter,
Dexter Thomas Jr., who is also in the process of obtaining his Ph.D in Japanese hip hop insists
that the hire was necessary.
“I think that goes to show that people have been able to but their information and concerns on the
forefront.” Thomas Jr. said in regards to people being able to voice their concerns about
diversity in the workplace on Twitter.
“We absolutely need more conversations about culture and racial issues.”
Letoya Peterson, a deputy editor at Fusion did just that when she was looking for a diverse pool
of candidates for jobs at NPR a few years ago. She tweeted about the application and even sent
out the notification to different list servers which she claims resulted in a diverse pool of
applicants for NPR’s summer internships for young journalists. Now she travels to different
companies and conferences instructing hiring managers on how to increase diversity in their
applicant pool and the type of methods they should use in order to do so.
“All of us have to become the best. Everybody was tweeting that Scandal line because it was
true. You have to be twice as good to go half as far because whenever you consider race people
immediately go for affirmative action and say oh you’re not qualified.” Peterson said.
Getting that diverse pool of applicants is the sole mission for Amanda Willis of Mashable HQ.
After her company’s HR department had a conference call about six months ago admitting that
diversity is a problem, last time has been promoting jobs and internships at her company to
various and sometimes lesser known school and institutions.
“We’ve gotten a little bit more of a diverse applicant pool but not to the point that I want.” Willis
“I’ll just be honest and say it. It generally hurts your coverage if everyone is white. Even if the
story has nothing to do with race.”