The contraction of the news industry and the recent recession hit black and Latino journalists harder than whites, the American Society of News Editors has established, and a new study suggests that those journalists might have been less financially equipped to withstand the layoffs than their white counterparts.
The Pew Charitable Trusts’ “Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment” did not specifically examine journalists, but it did look at the effects of unemployment on African Americans and Latinos.
“The study finds that while families at every rung of the economic ladder experienced unemployment, their ability to withstand and recover from losses differed dramatically,” it said.
“Low-income families and those of color had both the greatest risk of job loss and the least access to resources to buffer negative effects.”
It continued, “For example, when comparing those households that experienced unemployment, the median wealth of white households was at least seven times that of black households in each year of the study,” which covered 10 years.
“Moreover, families that experienced unemployment not only suffered lost income during their period not working, but also longer-term wealth losses, compromising their economic security and mobility.”
ASNE reported last year that overall, total newsroom employment at daily newspapers and online outlets declined by 2.4 percent in 2011, while the loss in minority newsroom positions was 5.7 percent.
“The decline in minority newsroom employment . . . appears to be stabilizing,” the organization reported. But it noted “a decline of approximately 800 minority newsroom positions in both 2008 and 2009,” followed by a loss of 500 jobs over 2010 and 2011. ASNE counts participating newspaper and online outlets, but not broadcasters.
(Bob Papper of Hofstra University, who tracks local broadcast numbers for the Radio Television Digital News Association, told Journal-isms by email, “At this point, total TV news employment is slightly ahead of the last pre-recession number … and the percentage of minorities is virtually unchanged. No progress … but no loss either.”)