Note: This is the 2003 report. If you're looking for the 2005 report, go to
Presented at the American Society of Newspaper Editors
April 8, 2003, New Orleans
1. How well do editors know the demographics of their communities?
One reason that editors may be making only slow progress toward their goal of employing minority journalists is that many editors believe they're a lot closer to the goal than they actually are. When the American Society of Newspaper Editors asks them the size of the minority populations in their communities, their estimate is far more often underestimated, not overestimated.
2. How many newspapers still have all-white newsrooms?
No people of color work in 372 American newspapers. Many of these all-white papers are small, but they have a combined weekday circulation of 4,113,752 -- more than USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post combined.(And that's not counting the more than 400 newspapers that don't reply to the ASNE survey.)
3. How close are most papers to parity with their minority communities?
Only three out of 10 U.S. newspapers are at least halfway to ASNE's declared goal.
4. Aren't some papers improving?
Yes. In the past year, 276 papers drew closer to parity with the community. But 215 papers declined. Only a third of the largest newspapers are at their all-time high-water mark in minority share of newsroom seats. The odd ducks are still the one-tenth of big-city dailies whose minority employment has reached parity with their minority communities.
5. Don't the largest newspapers hire away all the minorities from smaller newspapers?
Size matters. But size isn't determinative. There is a wide variation among newspapers of the same circulation. And some smaller newspapers employ a greater share of minorities than many larger papers.
6. Does it matter who owns the newspaper?
Apparently, yes. If you had to guess a newspaper's minority staff, the first question would be: Who owns it?
And you'll find the tables here:
ASNE's report of totals for the country is also on the Web, at ASNE. ASNE does not release detailed information for individual newspapers (employees by race/ethnicity, or type of job), only the bottom-line number: percentage of newspeople who are minorities. But ASNE does give aggregated breakdowns for the nation.
Contacts: Send e-mail to Bill Dedman at Bill@PowerReporting.com and Steve Doig at Steve.Doig@ASU.edu.