Dynamics in the newsroom


Emine Gul Demir – Special to the Southern News

While watching the news if the anchor does not represent the background of the audience it gives the impression the unrepresented population is not important to the community, said Amanda Perez junior communication major.

“I see a clear ethnic disparity in TV news,” said Perez. “To cover it up there is that one token black person.”

The Pew Research Center found, in 2012 minority journalists accounted for 12 percent of the total newspaper newsroom workforce. The research adds the statistics have decreased from a high of 14 percent in 2005.

Joseph Manzella, a cultural anthropology professor, said in the 80s newsrooms slowly began to promote gender diversity – but not ethnic diversity. Manzella said the anchor has a position of authority in the public and when there isn’t diversity millennias might not be exposed to accepting diversity.

Shahid Abdul-Karim, New Haven Register Community Engagement Editor, said people of color and women don’t have ownership or control over the media. Comcast, News Corp, Disney, Time Warner, Viacom, CBS – all are owned by Caucasian men said Karim.

“It’s going to be a challenge to change the dynamic or the culture,” said Karim, “when 90 percent of the media is controlled by six companies.”

The Society of Professional Journalists formed a Code of Ethics with four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism. A code under the principle Seek Truth and Report It is, avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.

Nineteen seventy-seven was the first year the American Society of News Editors conducted a census, the minorities accounted for four percent of the newspaper newsroom employees. By 1994, the percentage of minority journalists almost tripled to 11 percent and 18 years later in 2012 the percentage only increased one point at 12 percent.

Karim said newspapers do not affectively advertise to the communities of color; He added minorities do not receive as much news coverage.

“When they (minorities) are not featured consistently in local newspapers it is hard to sell to those communities,” said Karim.

Manzella worked in multiple newsrooms for about 16 years leaving in 1988, he work at The Hartford Courant for the last nine years of his journalistic career.

“We lack, to a certain degree, African American and Hispanic voices,” said Manzella. “It is getting better, especially on public radio.”

According to the 2014 census of minority percentage at participating newspapers New Haven Register had the highest minority count, 14.5 percent. The Republican-American came in last with a 2.4 minority employee percentage.

Manzella said demographics constantly change and newsrooms need to attract all people rather than the majority.

Manzella said, “When young people watch the news, if they see only one kind of face they get the impression that is the only face that is acceptable, because the anchor is the exemplar of somebody that is acceptable.”

Monica Zielinski, Southern News Managing Editor and senior journalism major, said newsrooms could improve ethnic diversity especially in smaller cities. Zielinski said she thinks larger cities are doing a better job representing the demographics.

“People are being misrepresented because the reporter does not fully understand the religion or culture,” said Zielinski. “But this can be easily fix with a diverse staff.”

Monica said there are many benefits to having a diverse newsroom, if there is a misinterpretation regarding a specific culture or ethnicity or religion it can be asked to the person of the minority.

“When the story evolves race and ethnicity,” said Zielinski. “I think it is important that the newspaper does a fair and equal job reporting it.”

The SPJ Code of Ethics also includes, boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.

Zielinski said in order to fix the lack of ethnic diversity she recommends hiring managers to go out to inner city universities to recruit for job openings. She said students in inner-city universities are more diverse but have less opportunity compared to outer city universities, such as Fairfield University.

“If hiring managers simply stick to the standard, ‘most of our audience is white men so we’ll have white anchors’ – that’s ridiculous,” said Manzella.

The Pew Research Center found, women are often underrepresented in newspaper newsrooms. In 2012 women made up less than half of most ethnic groups; 47 percent of African Americans. According to the census 35 percent of newsroom supervisors are women.

“They are doing a fairly good job,” said Manzella. “They try to equalize the number of men and women on TV”

The Women’s Media Center, an organization aiming to make women visible and powerful in the media, according to the website found men were more likely to report on topics of politics, criminal justice, science, sports, technology. (SP#4). The WMC collected data on the number of male and female employee’s the project was called, “The Media Gender Gap.” The study found The New York Times was one of the newspapers with the highest gender gap, with 32 percent of women and 68 percent of male staff. The Chicago Sun-Times had the lowest gender gap, with 55 percent of women and 45 percent of male staff.

Perez said she thinks journalism is a male dominated career because women are still perceived as housewives. She added because of the mindset of women not having authority news jobs are not given to women as often.

“The news is a serious topic,” said Perez, “if men do not take women seriously the gender gap will not decrease.”

Photo Credit: Binuri Ranasinghe

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