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Diversifying the fourth estate – journalism schools

by Michele N-K Collison

Will journalism schools continue to pursue students of color now
that the American Society of Newspaper Editors has scaled back its
commitment to diversity?

Journalism educators say they remain committed to increasing the
numbers of minority students and faculty members in journalism schools
despite a recent decision by the nation’s leading newspaper editors
association to scale back its twenty-year-old goals for increasing
newsroom diversity.

In 1978, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) pledged
that by the year 2000, minority representation in newsrooms would be at
parity with national demographics. People of color currently constitute
roughly one quarter of the nation’s population. Their representation in
newsrooms, however, is only at 11.4 percent. In April, less than two
years before the year 2000 deadline, the society conceded its original
goal was unattainable, proposing a more “realistic” goal of 20 percent
minority representation by the year 2010.

“It’s too early to tell whether ASNE’s decision will have any
impact at journalism schools,” says Dr. Karen Brown Dunlap, dean of
faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. She adds that
journalism schools “didn’t have that great a record to brag about
anyway. The will to [increase diversity] has not been there on a
widespread basis.”

About 6,000, of the nation’s 54,700 newspaper reporters,
photographers, and editors are African American, Hispanic, or Native
American, according to an ASNE survey (see Incredible Whiteness pg 40).
These constitute three times the percentage they had in 1978 when ASNE
set its goals. But journalists and educators say that the number of
minorities entering the profession has remained stagnant, while the
country’s minority population has grown far beyond the 15 percent ASNE
had projected for 2000. In 1994, nearly 26 percent of the nation’s
population were members of minority groups, but the number of minority
journalists increased just one-tenth of 1 percent in the last year.

And, indeed, the number of minorities who graduate from the
nation’s journalism schools has tended to mirror employment in the
nation’s newsrooms. In 1996. 8.9 percent of students who received
bachelor’s degrees in journalism were African American.

Educators cite many obstacles in recruiting minority students into
journalism schools. First, they note, minority students, like White
students, can choose many more financially lucrative careers than
journalism. Secondly, many said minority students were often reluctant
to move to the small cities or rural towns where many journalism
graduates often start their careers.

“But those are just a lot of excuses,” says Richard Roth, associate
dean of journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of
Journalism. “We do have a responsibility to go out and recruit more
minority students to diversity America’s newsrooms.”

Roth adds that the goal of increasing diversity is even more important in journalism than in other professions.

“It does matter in journalism if there is diversity in the ranks of
the profession. If the only people in the newsrooms are White males,
then they won’t know many of the stories in the Black, Hispanic, and
Asian American cultures and neighborhoods. People in the newsroom
should come from every lifestyle and every neighborhood.”

Strategic Recruiting

Currently, 25 percent of Medill’s undergraduate and graduate
students are people of color. Roth says the school tries to increase
its numbers of minority graduate students by recruiting from
historically Black colleges and at conferences like the one run by the
National Association of Black Journalists. Medill also conducts a
summer program for college students to expose them to journalism and
offer them internships at Chicago media outlets.

Others say journalism schools need to step up their recruiting of faculty members of color.

“Reluctantly, deans of journalism schools are trying to diversify
the ranks of faculty because of accrediting rules that require schools
to demonstrate a commitment to increase the number of students and
faculty of color,” says Dr. Sherrie Mazingo, professor and chair of
broadcasting at the University of Southern California School of
Journalism. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass
Communications established the requirement known as “Standard Twelve,”
in 1984.

“The vast majority of programs take [diversity] very seriously,”
said Charles Higginson, assistant to the executive director of the
Council. “And it’s not just because we’re there cracking a whip. As the
country becomes more diverse, the media is demanding that journalism
schools [produce] more minority journalists. If the journalism schools
don’t provide the students, where are the minority journalists going to
come from?”

But others say it will be difficult for many minorities to join the
ranks of faculty at journalism schools because many colleges,
especially historically Black universities, are requiring professors to
have doctoral degrees.

“I think this is very misguided because most minorities have been
professionals practicing their craft,” said Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa,
professor of journalism at Howard University.

Ironically, ASNE’s retreat is occurring at a time when the number
of minorities in society is swelling, Mazingo points out. Hiring
journalists of color simply makes good business sense, since growing
numbers of minorities may hold the key to bolstering sagging newspaper
circulations.

“Many newspapers have failed to grasp the importance of changing
demographics. They have simply missed the boat in drawing in and
appealing to people of color,” Mazingo says.

“A lot of newspapers and journalism schools talk the talk, but
they’re not ready to walk the walk,” said Dr. Eddith Dashiell,
assistant director at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio
University. Dashiell is one of five full-time minority faculty members
at the university’s journalism school.

“News organizations cater to their public, and if there aren’t a
lot of minorities in their circulation or viewing areas, then diversity
is not a significant issue,” she says.

Dashiell believes that if journalism schools want to produce more minority students, they must work harder at retention.

“We can recruit them, but we can’t keep them. It is difficult for
schools like Ohio University to keep minority students because it is in
a small town. Scholarships are important, but it’s also important to
provide a welcoming community.”

Others see the potential for the number of students in journalism
schools to decline because of recent court rulings rolling back the
affirmative action gains of recent decades.

“These rulings are sending signals encouraging less diversity.
Schools will face less pressure to recruit and retain students,” says
the Poynter Institute’s Dunlap.

“In the end, much of the commitment to increase diversity must come
from the top. If ASNE shows no interest in recruiting minority
journalists, why should newspapers hire them? [And] why should
journalism schools recruit them?,” Kaggwa says. “Newsrooms that want to
hire minorities will hire minorities; those that are doing it because
external forces are breathing down their neck, are not going to do it.”

Enrollment Trends in Journalism and
Mass Communication (1988-96)

Enrollment in Journalism and Mass Communication Programs

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Number of schools with programs
394 395 404 414 413

Bachelor's 137,971 145,781 138,932 141,811 133,122
Master's 8,265 8,592 8,335 8,857 9,316
Doctoral 826 923 711 1,072 923

1993 1994 1995 1996

Number of schools with programs
430 431 427 449

Bachelor's 128,367 128,788 129,276 137,858
Master's 10,148 10,449 10,934 10,236
Doctoral 1,005 1,239 957 1,162
Undergraduate Enrollment in Journalism and Mass Communication
Programs by Race/Ethnicity (by percent)

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Black 7.9 10.0 10.6 9.4 11.0
Hispanic 3.3 3.80 4.3 4.2 5.1
Asian 1.6 1.5 1.8 2.3 2.2
Native Amer 0.3 0.3 0.7 0.5 0.9
White -- 82.8 80.4 80.8 72.9
Other 86.9 0.7 1.1 1.6 6.2
Foreign -- 0.8 1.1 1.1 1.6

1993 1994 1995 1996

Black 13.5 12.6 11.1 12.2
Hispanic 5.5 8.1 6.2 6.0
Asian 2.6 2.7 3.1 3.4
Native Amer 0.4 0.6 0.9 9.0
White 72.9 72.9 75.4 71.7
Other 3.4 1.3 1.3 3.5
Foreign 1.8 1.8 1.9 2.3
Master's Degree Enrollment in Journalism and Mass Communication
Programs by Race/Ethnicity (by percent)

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Black 6.7 6.2 6.2 5.7 6.4
Hispanic 2.1 2.2 2.8 1.8 3.4
Asian 5.1 3.3 2.9 3.0 4.6
Native Amer 0.3 0.4 0.2 0.2 1.6
White -- 73.0 69.7 76.1 72.4
Other 85.8 3.2 4.2 1.6 2.3
Foreign -- 11.8 14.0 11.6 9.3

1993 1994 1995 1996

Black 7.0 6.9 8.7 7.9
Hispanic 3.1 4.3 3.9 4.0
Asian 3.6 3.9 3.8 4.2
Native Amer 0.4 0.4 1.5 1.1
White 69.6 72.1 66.2 63.6
Other 6.1 1.8 3.0 6.0
Foreign 11.2 10.8 12.9 13.3
Doctoral Degree Enrollment in Journalism and Mass Communication
Programs by Race/Ethnicity (by percent)

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Black 9.7 9.2 7.7 10.4 5.9
Hispanic 1.0 0.5 1.9 1.8 1.5
Asian 6.3 2.9 1.9 2.8 3.5
Native Amer 0.3 0.0 4.4 1.3 0.2
White -- 66.0 61.7 64.3 72.3
Other 82.7 1.5 1.2 1.7 2.5
Foreign -- 19.8 21.3 17.5 14.0

1993 1994 1995 1996

Black 8.0 5.6 9.6 10.7
Hispanic 0.9 2.0 1.5 1.6
Asian 3.4 5.4 2.2 4.1
Native Amer 0.3 1.2 0.3 0.9
White 64.0 73.1 50.2 60.8
Other 3.8 0.3 2.5 5.1
Foreign 19.6 12.3 33.7 16.8

Source: Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollment.

Degree Trends in Journalism and Mass
Communication (1988-96)

Degrees Granted in Journalism and Mass Communication

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Undergrad 31,207 30,426 33,331 33,570 33,840
Masters 2,269 2,554 2,551 2,665 2,375
Doctoral 99 100 106 141 121

1993 1994 1995 1996

Undergrad 34,553 32,847 30,638 32,147
Masters 2,838 3,482 2,745 3,606
Doctoral 150 197 110 142
Undergraduate Degrees Granted in Journalism and Mass Communication
by Race/Ethnicity (by percent)

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Black 7.2 7.5 7.8 7.4 7.4
Hispanic 3.4 2.4 3.1 3.5 6.0
Asian 1.7 1.6 1.5 1.8 1.6
Native Amer 0.3 3.0 0.3 0.2 2.0
White -- 87.0 85.2 85.3 82.1
Other 87.4 0.3 1.1 1.0 1.6
Foreign -- 8.0 1.0 0.9 1.1

1993 1994 1995 1996

Black 10.1 8.9 10.1 8.9
Hispanic 4.1 4.5 4.6 4.3
Asian 2.0 2.7 3.3 2.8
Native Amer 0.2 0.8 0.4 0.9
White 81.0 78.5 75.9 79.3
Other 1.1 2.9 3.8 1.4
Foreign 1.4 1.7 1.9 2.5
Master's Degrees Granted in Journalism and Mass Communication
by Race/Ethnicity (by percent)

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Black 8.0 5.5 6.5 4.0 5.3
Hispanic 3.1 1.9 2.3 1.0 2.4
Asian 7.9 2.3 3.5 2.8 3.0
Native Amer 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.6 0.2
White -- 73.6 71.7 74.3 73.8
Other 80.7 2.9 3.4 3.4 5.6
Foreign -- 13.4 12.5 13.9 9.7

1993 1994 1995 1996

Black 6.1 6.4 7.2 6.8
Hispanic 3.2 3.2 3.4 3.0
Asian 4.2 5.2 4.2 3.4
Native Amer 0.0 0.2 1.4 0.5
White 69.2 67.2 62.8 64.7
Other 3.9 4.8 4.6 5.1
Foreign 13.3 13.0 16.4 16.5
Doctoral Degrees Granted in Journalism and Mass Communication
by Race/Ethnicity (by percent)

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

Black 16.2 12.6 10.3 17.4 1.4
Hispanic 0.0 0.0 0.9 1.1 0.0
Asian 5.4 0.0 6.8 5.4 1.4
Native Amer 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
White -- 69.0 61.5 59.8 74.0
Other 78.4 0.0 1.7 0.0 6.9
Foreign -- 18.4 18.8 16.3 16.4

1993 1994 1995 1996

Black 7.3 6.4 15.3 6.7
Hispanic 2.7 0.7 1.1 0.8
Asian 1.8 6.4 4.2 3.4
Native Amer 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
White 69.1 71.6 51.6 67.5
Other 0.9 3.6 2.1 1.7
Foreign 18.2 11.4 25.8 19.9

Source: Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Enrollment.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates



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