Networks Showing Minority Correspondents More, But Is it Enough?
As you can tell by my Floridian column today about Paula Zahn, the subject of race and news coverage has been on my mind recently.
I've been told that I'm too tough on TV news operations, particularly when it comes to diversity issues. So I'll understand if some think I'm indulging in a little paranoia with this item.
But I was struck by a recent analysis for the Center for Media and Public Affairs noting 15 percent of all network stories were reported by minority correspondents and 28 percent were reported by women; the highest proportion of minority and female visibility since 2002. The representation more than doubled since 1990, when CMPA began studying the demographics of network news reporters.
BUT -- these numbers seem to only be half the story. The other half is one the networks keep to themselves; namely, what percentage of their staff is made up of racial minorties.
For instance, if 50 percent of CBS' reporting staff is female, then the fact that 34 percent of their stories were reported by women isn't such a great figure. If 20 percent of NBC's reporters are minorities, then CMPA's figures noting 15 percent of the network's stories were reported by minorities still falls short of the ideal.
I do know, thanks to a column I wrote last year, that CBS' proportion of black reporters is at 10 percent, which means the CMPA's finding that 15 percent of the network's stories in 2006 were reported by minorities may signal an achievement. Depending on how many other minorities work on the reporting staff, people of color may actually be getting face time beyond their numbers.
Of course, the real goal is to have a reporting staff whose diversity comes close to representing the community it primarily covers (at the St. Petersburg Times, that means our diversity level of about 15 percent is way shy of our core community's population, where 20 percent of residents are people of color).
It also means that the networks, which serve a country where about 30 percent of the population is people of color, also have a long way to go before their reporting staffs reflect the diversity of the nation.
See why people say I'm too picky?
Here's the release:
Study: Minority, Female Correspondents’ Visibility Hits High Water Mark
WASHINGTON, DC — Racial and gender diversity among reporters on the broadcast network evening newscasts matched its highest level since 1990, according to a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). The study found that the representation of both minority and female reporters has more than doubled since 1990, when CMPA began studying the demographics of network news reporters.
These are the results of CMPA’s seventeenth annual report on “Gender and Minority
Representation in Network News.” This report examined over 11,000 news stories
broadcast on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs during 2006. CMPA began tracking “Gender and Minority Representation” in 1990.
2006: A Return to (Peak) Form: In 2006, 15 percent of all network stories were reported by minority correspondents and 28 percent were reported by women. This is the highest proportion of minority and female visibility since 2002, when minorities and women accounted for 14 percent and 29 percent of all stories aired, respectively. These figures are more than double those CMPA recorded in the first year of this ongoing study. In 1990 minorities reported only seven percent and women thirteen percent of stories aired on the evening news shows.
Steady as They Go — Minority story assignments remained steady at a record high (since 1990) of 15 percent in 2006, after jumping from 10 to 15 percent in 2004. CBS correspondent Byron Pitts was the most prominent minority, ranking 20 th of all reporters with 76 stories reported. ABC’s Pierre Thomas, NBC’s Jim Maceda and CBS’ Joie Chen and Randall Pinkston were the other minorities to crack 2006’s list of “The 50 Most Visible Network Correspondents.”
Venus Rising: For the second straight year, female correspondents saw an increase in story assignments, rising from 25 percent in 2004 to 26 percent in 2005 to 28 percent last year. ABC’s
Martha Raddatz was the most visible female news correspondent last year, ranking fourth with 112 stories reported. The other women who made the list of “The 50 Most Visible Network Correspondents of 2006” were CBS’ Katie Couric, Lara Logan, Sharyn Alfonsi, Sharyl Attkisson, Gloria Borger, Elizabeth Palmer, Trish Regan and Joie Chen? NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Lisa Myers, Anne Thompson and Dawn Fratangelo? ABC’s Lisa Stark, and Betsy Stark.
CBS Tops in Minority, Women Reporters— At CBS, 15 percent of all stories were covered by minority reporters, while women reported 34 percent. NBC also assigned 15 percent of its stories to minorities but only 25 percent to women. The least diversity was at ABC, where minority correspondents covered 10 percent of all stories and women correspondents 23 percent.