Women of Color Underrepresented in U.S. News Media

By Anita Estell, Esq.

women of color underrepresented in US media

A recent report by the Women’s Media Center, “The Status of Women of Color in the U.S. News Media 2018,” concludes that women of color (WOC) are woefully missing from U.S. media companies and newsrooms.  WOC are projected to comprise more than 50 percent of the U.S. population by 2043.  Yet, the report, released in October 2018, notes, “U.S. media does not look like, sound like, or reflect the diversity and experience of more than half the population.”

Our democracy needs change not only in front of the camera, but also behind the camera and in the corner suite. Promoting one marquee woman is not enough. Hiring more women—in decision-making roles — is essential. Impactful change will occur when companies hire and promote more women at all levels of media. Bigger numbers will add up to a bigger voice and real change.

Source: Status of WOC in U.S. News Media

The numbers don’t lie; nor do the narratives derived from interviewing 30 WOC industry leaders, such as Dana Canedy, the recently elected Administrator of the Pulitzer Awards, and about one-third of the companies in the newspaper business. Referencing a survey of about 661 newsrooms, conducted by the American Society of Magazine Editors, the numbers are as follows:

Of all journalists — leaders and all others — 83.16 percent were White, basically un-changed from the 2016 survey. Also, 31.04 percent of all those employees were White women; 2.62 percent were Black women; 2.47 percent were Hispanic women; 2.39 per cent were Asian women; 0.16 percent were American Indian women; 0.04 percent were Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women; 0.27 percent were women identified as Other; and 0.13 percent were reported as women of unknown race (because that information was not provided).

The report finds that media companies need to do more to hire and promote sufficient numbers of WOC journalists to ensure proper coverage and reflection of perspectives and views of an increasingly diverse audience.  Intentional efforts are needed across every sector of the industry– online, print, radio, social media and TV.  As the media shines a light on the political trends and the increase in the numbers of women recently elected to Congress, particularly the U.S. House of Representatives, it is clear intentional efforts are needed by leaders in the fourth estate to place their respective media houses in order.