The lack of diversity in newsrooms has long been an issue. Newsroom are overwhelmingly white; 40 percent of American newspapers have no people of color in the newsroom.
As Bryan Monroe wrote in Nieman Reports in 2003, “Why is this important? Too many newspapers still cannot fully cover the richness and complexity of their communities because their staffs come from a limited perspective. We are unable to regularly listen to those in the shadows and too often incapable of hearing voices different from our own. We, therefore, are telling our readers an incomplete, inaccurate story. And, in the process, we are practicing bad journalism.”
Local community activist Alonzo Washington is taking it a step further, complaining that black TV reporters have been shifted to less prominent positions and that white reporters are front and center. In a blog post, he said he is less inclined to work with the media – sharing his perspectives on the black community – when the coverage portrays blacks in a negative light, which he says is often, and on purpose.
He leaves a parting thought (bold is his):
A message to all local news producers in KC: You motherfuckers are racist and you know it. I hope that you all will do more to highlight more positive images of African Americans and keep more Black talent on the air at your TV stations. Maybe, in the future I will do more with you guys. It’s just as I get older it’s hard for me to front and act like I can’t see all negative coverage you all do of Black people. I also see how you treat your on air Black talent. It’s very unjust and some how that needs to change in the near future so all races will have a balanced image on the local news.
A quarter of TV journalists in Kansas City are people of color: 10 of 38 news staffers at FOX; seven of 28 at KCTV, and seven of 26 at KSHB. Minorities account for 37 percent of the American population.
According to the Nieman article, about 90 percent of journalists in the U.S. are white (in 2003). A 2003 ASNE poll found minorities make up about 12.5 percent of the average newspaper newsroom.