The media landscape is still very pale and very male, according to the Women’s Media Center. The nonprofit released a report called “The Status of Women of Color in the U.S. News Media 2018,” and it’s full of grim details, highlighting slim gains for women of color in largely white online-only media outlets, a stagnation of women of color on newspaper staffs, and a decline in women of color in radio hires:
“The Status of Women of Color in the U.S. News Media 2018” report finds that U.S. media companies have not hired or promoted enough women of color as journalists to allow newsrooms to reflect the perspectives of their readers and viewers. In fact—based on the newsrooms who replied to professional association queries—women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff, 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, and 6.2 percent of local radio staff.
Even in this moment of great and sometimes performative “awokenings” in newsrooms, the media is still largely an ol’ boys club full of white men, especially in leadership positions. The women making the biggest strides are—to no one’s surprise—also white. This is a poor reflection of an increasingly non-white American populace.
The report includes interviews with 30 women journalists and broadcasters of color such as Soledad O’Brien, Ann Curry, Joy Reid, Maria Hinojosa, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and features anecdotes and advice about how they deal with this fuckery without getting too discouraged.
“There are so many micro-aggressions that come with being a journalist and female and not White. If you spend too much time seeing yourself—in terms of how they see you—as only those things, you will lose your mind,” said O’Brien, who lost her anchor’s seat at CNN in 2013. She was replaced by Erin Burnett, a white woman.
The Women’s Media Center’s case for a more diverse newsroom—particularly in hiring more women of color—is a no-brainer: More diverse newsrooms make for more accurate news stories. “We recommend that managers and editors establish standards that require producers, bookers, and journalists to make sure the experts interpreting news stories include representative numbers of diverse women — to ensure that stories are told with authenticity and accuracy.”
Unfortunately, the makeup of online-only publications are more foggy than more traditional media outlets. But considering the start-up style cesspool that most online-only media organizations emerge from, it’s unsurprising that those spaces are also overwhelmingly white. Buzzfeed is one of the few online platforms to release an annual diversity report, and while it’s refreshing that 55 percent of its employees are women, there is no breakdown of these women by race.
But who needs official diversity stats when you can just ask me, a black woman in media, what the landscape is like? Well, I’m sorry to report that media is, indeed, very fucking white. (Happy to have a study to back me up though.)