A release from the National Association of Black Journalists:

Second annual report by black journalists’ organization finds broadcast companies slow to improve diversity

TAMPA, FLA. – AUGUST 6, 2009 — The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Television Management Diversity Census released today reveals a discouraging lack of diversity in top tier newsroom management at seven of the nation’s major broadcast companies.

The census is a study of the ethnic make-up of news managers with editorial control at 111 stations owned by ABC, CBS, FOX, Hearst Argyle, Media General, NBC and Tribune. News managers are defined in the study as executive producers, managing editors, assistant news directors, news directors and general managers.

The 2009 census found that of 548 managers employed at the stations, only 65 or 11.7% are people of color. Last year’s study of stations owned by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC found that there were 61 managers of color at the companies’ 61 stations, or 16.6%. This year that percentage fell to 15.8%.

NABJ President Barbara Ciara, speaking at the opening ceremony of the NABJ Annual Convention & Career Fair in Tampa, characterized the results as disappointing considering the large talent pool of skilled black journalists available.

“These results should be a wake-up call to media owners who say they are serious about diversity in management,” said Ciara. “At the end of the day, we find the number of African Americans who actually have the ability to hire or influence content falls woefully short of the desired goals.”

NABJ shares the mission of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) in advocating for parity between the nation’s newsrooms and the communities they serve. This study, like ASNE’s April newsroom employment census did for newspapers, demonstrates that minorities lag far behind in decision-making roles at television stations.

“This is not about the economy costing black journalists their jobs,” said NABJ Region VI Director and report author Bob Butler. “When you have 111 stations and in those stations you have 65 managers of color, that’s not because of the economy. That tells you that there weren’t many there to begin with.”

The study also found that the economy was a major reason cited for cutbacks to newsroom positions, but that diversity was also adversely affected.

“I think to a certain extent the old boys network still exists in television,” said Butler of the challenge for current hiring managers to incorporate more diversity into management. “The manager will hire someone who he or she knows and will be less likely to hire somebody they don’t know.”

Ciara encourages the companies used for the study to consider NABJ as a resource to achieve a diverse population in their newsrooms.

“We have a huge talent pool of experienced media professionals within our organization,” she said. “All we have to do is connect the dots.”

The full 2009 NABJ Television Newsroom Management Diversity Census is available by visiting NABJ.org.

Editor’s note: I am a full member of NABJ and the Sacramento Black Journalists Association. For the 2009 Television Management Census, click here (.pdf).