"ABSTRACT: Race and the Politics of Promotion in Newspaper Newsrooms"

Ted Pease
Department of Communication
Utah State University

(Presented to the Newspaper Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication national convention, Montreal, Aug. 5-8, 1992.)

It's one thing to hire people of color to help "balance" the newsroom, but once minority journalists are on-board as reporters and editors, the culture of the newsroom tends to exclude and isolate them. Responses by 1,328 newspaper journalists to a national survey shows that the newspaper industry's efforts to correct the lack of newsroom and news content diversity may have been something less than a complete success. As the old rules change, those entrenched in the newsroom exhibit increasing resistance to the new, multicultural order. At least, that's how it appears to the newcomers. Minorities and women in U.S. daily newspaper newsrooms say glass ceilings sharply limit their professional opportunities, but white men don't think the ceiling exists. Whites do think that minorities get preferential treatment in hiring, assignments and promotions, but minority journalists say that whatever extra benefit minorities may get in hiring evaporates once they are in the newsroom. And how important is it, really, to hire staffers of different ethnic and racial backgrounds? Essential, say 74 percent of minorities, but only 49 percent of white journalists. Once on-board, is there equal opportunity in training and assignments? No, everyone agrees. More than 53 percent of white journalists say minorities get just as many opportunities to succeed as anyone else, but 65 percent of minorities say minority journalists have fewer opportunities than whites. About 30 percent of whites say minority journalists get more opportunities to succeed than do whites. Almost 69 percent of minorities say young minority journalists are hired to fill quotas, and then abandoned. The bottom line: Sharply differing perspectives by race about opportunities and advancement in newspaper newsrooms.

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