Diversity at Local Stations Falls for 3rd Year

ABC News says four of color have become senior producers since 2008.

Ernie Suggs, left, Kathy Times andBarbara Ciara of NABJ meetwith ABC News President David Westin. (NABJ)
Ernie Suggs, left, Kathy Times andBarbara Ciara of NABJ meetwith ABC News President David Westin. (NABJ)

“The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds that the percentage of minority news directors rose in both television and radio. But those were nearly the only positive numbers in the survey. Overall, the percentage of minorities in both radio and television fell for the third straight year, although the drop in TV was small,” the Radio Television Digital News Association reported on Wednesday.

“Women in radio news rose slightly, but the percentage of women radio news directors went down, as did both the overall percentage of women in TV news and women TV news directors. The drop in women TV news directors was small, and the percentage of women TV news directors stands at the second-highest level ever.

” … the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 20 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 9.4 percent; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 2.4 percent, and the minority workforce in radio is actually half what it was two decades ago. Still, TV news diversity remains far ahead of newspaper.”

The RTNDA study focused on local stations, not the networks. In a separate development at the network level, ABC News identified four people of color who have been named to senior producer positions since the National Association of Black Journalists met with ABC News President David Westin in 2008: Alvin PatrickSarah AmosJack Date and Catherine McKenzie.

Patrick, who is at Nightline, and McKenzie, of Good Morning America, are African American. Date works at This Week, and Amos at World News.

Westin announced this month he would step down. “As David mentioned, he has focused on the senior and executive producer positions because they have a strong impact on the editorial content of the programs,” ABC spokeswoman Cathie Levine told Journal-isms.

A July 2008 study of network decision-makers by NABJ found that of the executive producers at ABC, six were white, two were Asian American and none was African American, Native American or Hispanic.

In the RTNDA study, survey coordinator Bob Papper noted that the minority population is projected to be at 35.3 percent in 2010, but the minority television workforce is at 20.2 percent and the minority radio workforce at 5 percent. He wrote:

“We end the decade with no gains whatsoever for minorities in TV news, and the percentage of minorities in radio news is down substantially.