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