Professor Wagner: Tech Industry Short on Diversity, Same with News Media

Tuesday, August 04, 2015
Photo of Venise Wagner

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- “According to the American Society of News Editors, which has been conducting the newsroom diversity census since 1978 and just released its 2015 figures, minorities make up 12.8 percent of newsrooms. This number has stayed relatively stagnant over the last eight years, but it hit a peak at 13.7 percent in 2006. The numbers in broadcast media are not much different. Yet based on an annual survey of college graduates in journalism and mass communication — the Grady College Survey — minorities made up about 21 percent of journalism or communications graduates in 2013. Women haven’t quite made it either. While they made up 73 percent of graduates in the field in 2013, they made up 36 percent of the news editorial staff in newspapers that year, according to the Women’s Media Center.

“Even so, the numbers in the news media are better than those we see in most tech companies. Twitter’s diversity numbers from last year found that women made up 10 percent of tech jobs. And while Asians made up 34 percent of tech jobs at Twitter, Latinos and African Americans made up a total of 4 percent. Should tech companies look to news media companies for answers? Not necessarily. Most of the efforts over the decades to improve diversity in newsrooms haven’t budged the needle much. But we have new tools in hand, and with the common intersection of tech and media, working together might bring about a different result.”

Venise Wagner, associate professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University, is the co-editor and co-author of Reporting Inequality: Methods and Tools for Covering Race and Ethnicity, to be released in 2017.