Media

As Texas Gets More Diverse, Press Corps Stays Mostly White & Male

In 2009 I, like thousands of other journalists, was laid off from my job. It sucked on a very existential level, obviously an economic one, but I was fortunate in that I had the support of my family and friends and was able to bounce back after a time. In that sense, I had it way better than a lot of people who, during that same time, lost their jobs and fared (and continue to fare) much worse.

Looking back at losing my job, I realize that I was part of a trend during that layoff spree that continues to affect the news we consume in the U.S. — the fact that, due to cuts made largely by “seniority” — more women and minorities were let go from newsrooms than white dudes. This trend, if you look at the bylines of the people writing stories about Texas politics (largely centered around policies specifically affecting Latinos or women), is absolutely mortifying in the Lone Star State.

Think of it this way: as Texas becomes increasingly Latino, and issues of women’s rights and LGBT rights become more prominent, it’s going to be old, straight white guys explaining that importance, significance, and meaning of these policies to the affected communities.

What do you think about that? Anyway, statistics time! In bullet point form because, TL;DR:

  • In 2012 during the election, 93% of front page stories were written by white reporters. Only 4% were written by Asians, 2.1% by blacks/African Americans and .9% (yes less than 1%) by Latinos. LINK
  • Just 12.3% of newsrooms are made up of minorities but make up 37% of the U.S. population. LINK
  • Newsroom employment is down 2.4% in 2011, but 5.7% for non-whites. LINK
  • 2/3 of all newsrooms are male. LINK

It’s not just newspapers, but cable, online news outlets, and magazines, too.

Diversity is good for business, it’s been shown in studies (here, here, here, and here for example), and in Texas it’s kind of pathetic that we have mostly straight, middle class white dudes trying to talk about the impact of LGBT policies in Houston or DNA testing exonerating black inmates in Dallas or how single member districts in Austin will affect the Latino community.

Plus, I keep hearing all of these outlets talk about “reaching out to Hispanics.” It makes me want to barf on myself that they say they’ll do anything to get in with Hispanics — except hire any of them. What’s up with that? To them I just have to say, call me, I know plenty of qualified candidates who have what you need to penetrate the Latino community.

And don’t get me wrong — some of my best friends are old, white guys. My mentors in the industry were, more often than not, old, white guys and their kindness and support and encouragement was awesome. I wouldn’t have become the writer or thinker or journalist I am today without them, and the best of them would agree with this column.

If Texas outlets want to reach out to Hispanics, women or the LGBT community — or more concretely — reach into their pocketbooks, how about giving them an incentive by hiring some of them and thus making your product more relevant? Just my 2 cents…

Hit me up on the Tuiti @SaraChicaD.

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