The Shameful Delay:
Newspapers' Recruitment of Minorities Employees, 1968-1978
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
201 Hwy 54 Bypass West # 418
Carrboro NC 27510
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A paper submitted for consideration to the History Division
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication,
New Orleans, August 1999
The facts were stark, but not surprising. Despite some improvement, the
percentage of minorities working in the newsrooms of the nation's daily
newspapers remained woefully low. Two-thirds of the newspapers had no minority
employees, and the number of minority editors remained "pitifully small." In
reporting those results to fellow editors in 1978, members of the American
Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) Committee on Minorities insisted newspapers
needed to revitalize their efforts to increase minority employment in their
newsrooms. As John Quinn, senior vice president of Gannett Newspapers Inc. had
told the committee earlier in the year: "We must find a way to recreate the
feeling that there is a moral reason to do the right thing - to get ourselves
fired up to right a wrong the same way we get fired up to right a wrong we have
uncovered at city hall." In an effort to right that wrong, the committee
recommended that by the year 2000 minority employment in daily newspapers should
equal the percentage of minorities in the U.S. population. The ASNE board of
directors agreed and that April it adopted what came be known as the Year 2000
goal, which called for racial parity in newsrooms by the turn of the century.
Although the committee's report and recommendation for racial parity were
commendable, they failed to address an important question concerning racial
parity in U.S. newsrooms: What had taken so long? Ten years earlier, the
National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders had admonished the nation's
media for being "shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training, and
promoting Negroes." President Johnson had charged the Kerner Commission, as
it came to be known, with exploring the causes of racial disorders that had
gripped the country in the summer of 1967. In its 1968 report, the commission
faulted the media for reporting and writing "from the standpoint of a white
man's world." The Kerner Commission stopped short of the warnings issued in
1947 when the Hutchins Commission had concluded that freedom of the press was in
danger because the media denied large groups of people access to the channels of
communication. A free society, the Hutchins Commission had said, required a
press that gave fair and representational portraits of all groups in the
society: "The Commission holds to the faith that if people are exposed to the
inner truth of the life of a particular group, they will gradually build up
respect for and understanding of it." Twenty years later, the Kerner
Commission faulted the country's media for not providing a fair and
representational portrait of black Americans. Only by hiring more blacks who had
access to and an understanding of life in the black community could newspapers
hope to provide a perspective that was decidedly not that of a white man, the
Yet in 1978 - ten years after Kerner and thirty-one years after Hutchins -
minorities comprised only about 4 percent of employees at newspapers, double the
percentage of a decade earlier but still well below that of the country as a
whole. Newspapers' ten-year delay in pro-actively tackling the issue of
newsroom parity is puzzling considering the media's performance during the civil
rights movement. Newspapers had made the movement front-page news. Many had
championed the cause of equality in their editorial pages. More important, an
institution that often considered itself the fourth estate in protecting the
rights of the powerless and the disenfranchised had been blind to what was
happening in its own newsrooms. As the Kerner Report noted: "It is unacceptable
that the press, itself the special beneficiary of fundamental constitutional
protections should lag so far behind other fields in giving effect to the
fundamental human right to equality of opportunity."
To understand what editors were discussing during those ten years between the
Kerner Commission Report in 1968 and adoption of the Year 2000 goal in 1978 is
to understand why editors took so long to make a definite and public commitment
to racial parity. To understand the delay in committing to racial parity is to
understand why, at the end of century, parity still evades America's newsrooms.
That understanding can be found in two rich, yet little-used, resources: the
annual proceedings of the country's two major editors' associations, ASNE and
the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME). Since its first meeting in 1923,
ASNE has published its annual proceedings in a volume called Problems of
Journalism. Since 1948, APME has published its proceedings in a volume that
has come to be called The APME Red Book. A review of the proceedings of both
groups from 1968 to 1978 demonstrates how editors grappled with how to achieve
racial parity between 1968 and 1978. In particular it shows that:
y As a group, editors initially ignored the Kerner Commission recommendations
and criticisms. When some editors did give attention to the commission's report
they often were hampered by other editors who considered inquiries into their
newsroom hiring practices a form of meddling.
y Some editors insisted they would hire more minority candidates if they could
find qualified candidates, an argument that more than one critic labeled as
y Many of the recruitment programs the newspaper industry now sponsors for high
school and college minority students grew out of efforts to remedy the
post-Kerner realization that young members of minority groups distrusted the
American media and rejected journalism as a possible life's work.
The shameful delay in pushing more strongly for newsroom parity deserves more
attention than it has received from media historians. Until the early 1990s,
researchers paid scant attention to the staffing levels and roles of minorities
in newspaper newsrooms. An understanding of editors' discussions during that
10-year period provides insight into the frustrations that accompanied the
struggle to gain support for the idea of racial parity and to convince editors
to take steps to achieve it. More important, editors' actions during that period
can help explain why, slightly more than a year from its self-imposed Year 2000
goal, the ASNE board admitted in the fall of 1998 that racial parity in the
newsroom probably would take another quarter-century to be achieved.
"We have been racist in our employment practices"
ASNE and APME efforts in the years immediately following release of the Kerner
Report can be characterized as a slow warming-up to the idea that newspapers
needed to initiate actions to achieve newsroom parity. ASNE's Committee on
Minority Employment made its first report to the group three years after the
Kerner Report. Although APME did not establish a separate committee on newsroom
diversity during this period, its Personnel Committee took up the challenge -
two years after Kerner. Only after those committees began to give serious
attention to racial parity did editors admit that prejudice had found a home in
their newsrooms and that they had a long way to go to evict it.
In April 1968, a month after the Kerner Commission had released its report and
days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ASNE met at the
Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. The racial strife of the long, hot summer of
1967 was on editors' agenda. During the three-
day convention, panel discussions addressed race problems in the United States
and the Kerner
Commission's review of news coverage during the previous summer's disturbances.
Although the commission had exonerated the media from having contributed to the
intensity of the disturbances, it admonished them for their portrayal of black
Americans in general: "Slights and indignities are part of the Negro's daily
life, and many of them come from what he now calls 'the white press' - a press
that repeatedly if unconsciously, reflects the biases, the paternalism, the
indifference of white America." News organizations needed to hire a sufficient
number of blacks into responsible positions - as reporters, editors and
commentators - to establish a link with the black community. Tokenism would not
Although ASNE members discussed racial issues on a national level, they had no
discussion of the need to consider the shortcomings of their own newsroom
staffing profiles. Nor did APME when members assembled for their annual meeting
that November. The topic was not unfamiliar to editors. Just a year earlier, the
AMPE Personnel Committee had declared that "The welcome mat is out for Negroes
in the city rooms of American newspapers." That proclamation was based on a
survey in which one-fifth of responding editors (63 of 300) had indicated they
were actively looking for black employees and "an even 100 said they would lower
or bend their normal employment standards to train a Negro for their
staffs." About the same time, researcher Edward J. Trayes of Temple
University surveyed newspapers in the country's twenty largest cities and found
that 2.6 percent of their newsroom professional employees were black, even
though their newspapers were in communities in which the population of blacks
ranged from 10 to 50 percent. A year later, Trayes surveyed 196 newspapers
with circulations exceeding 10,000 and found that less than 2 percent of their
professional newsroom members were black. Still, proceedings of the editors'
meetings show that after the Kerner Report, neither editors' group addressed the
need for greater minority representation in their newsrooms until 1970 when the
ASNE Committee on Education for Journalism gave a brief report on the "need to
attract more blacks into our profession rather than continuing in the viscous
circle of pirating the relatively few black newsmen from each other."
Not until 1972, in the inaugural report of the ASNE Committee on Minority
Employment did editors hear blunt talk from their own on the need for racial
parity and their failings in trying to achieve it. "We have, indeed, been racist
in our employment practices," Norman E. Isaacs of the Columbia School of
Journalism told editors that April. Charles O. Kilpatrick, editor and publisher
of the San Antonio Express delivered an equally blunt statement: "How can the
newspaper industry take moral positions on any subject concerning freedom of
opportunity so long as it is very much like ivory soap - 99.-something
lily-white?" Although the Kerner Report had focused on the need for newspapers
to hire more blacks, the ASNE committee addressed all racial and ethnic
minorities in a study Isaacs called the "first reasonably accurate tally on
minority news staff employment" because it separated professionals from such
support personnel as news aides and clerical help. The news was not good: The
nation's mainstream daily newspapers employed 300 minority news staff
professionals representing less than 1 percent (.75) of their employees.
Although most editors strongly favored increasing the minority populations of
their news staffs, prospects did not look good. Editors wanted "qualified"
candidates - a word the committee acknowledged was open to interpretation and
was resented by members of minority groups. Still, by the standards used to
judge all journalist candidates for newsroom jobs at the time, no pool of
qualified candidates existed. Few minority students were enrolled in accredited
schools of journalism; many young minority students felt estranged from the
mainstream media and as early as high school rejected journalism as a possible
Editors, however, could act to correct the situation, the ASNE committee
reported. They could recruit minorities rather than waiting for them to apply;
they could train talented young people who had the ability but not the
background, and they could get more involved in the community to spot potential
staff members. "You won't have minority people on your staff unless you want
them there," Kilpatrick said. "You won't have them there unless you make it
happen _ you cannot serve your constituency unless you do." And, you could
not make it happen if your mid-level editors, the people who did the hiring, did
not feel as committed to diversity as the top editor did. It was a theme
Isaacs would return to the next year when he told the same group that there was
a gap between the "announced intentions of publishers and editors and the
decisions made at middle-management levels." Only when top editors had insisted
on diversifying the newsroom had minority employment numbers improved, he
Robert Maynard challenged the editors to go further. Maynard would later become
the first black to own a general-circulation newspaper in a major city when he
bought The Oakland Tribune in 1983, but in the early 1970s he was working for
The Washington Post and co-director of a new intensive training program for
minority news people at Columbia University. More important than getting the
support of white mid-level editors, newspapers needed to promote more minorities
into mid-level editing positions, Maynard told editors. "There must be blacks in
the management structures who can help in making judgments about new personnel,
assist in their training and help to take the heat for failures which will
inevitably occur - and those, I would suspect under such circumstances, would be
kept to a bare minimum," he said.
If editors were talking openly about their need to end the era of the segregated
newsroom, not everyone was happy. While one New Jersey editor wrote the ASNE
committee that its effort was "a most worthy undertaking," one Texas editor
proclaimed it "a lot of horse manure." The final report on the project said
members of the committee deserved the Bronze Star for combat duty as they faced
denunciations and personal slurs. Certainly the 1972 ASNE report outlined
themes that were to recur as editors continued their struggle to increase
newsroom diversity: the debate over what constituted a qualified candidates, the
need for more training programs for minority school students, and the need to
prove to minorities that they were welcomed in the nation's newsrooms.
"A seven-year famine"
In announcing the results of ASNE's 1972 survey, Isaacs had warned editors that
anyone "looking for instant minority professionals" was in for a "seven-year
famine." Minorities in the workforce had been dissuaded from trying to enter
the business, minority college students rejected journalism as a career because
they felt disenfranchised, and high school guidance counselors had little
information on the opportunities for minorities in journalism. Editors responded
to calls for heighten recruiting through summer programs for high school and
college students and through scholarship efforts. The pay-off, however, would
take time. As Isaacs had warned, recruiting needed to start with junior and
senior high school students, who would not be ready to joint the workforce for
another seven years.
The Kerner Commission had noted the problems editors would face in their
recruiting efforts: "Journalism is not very popular as a career for aspiring
young Negroes. The starting pay is comparatively low and it is a business which
has until recently rejected them." In addition, young members of minority
groups had few role models in the media. One estimate set the number of black
journalists working for mainstream dailies in the mid-1930s at five. After World
War II, more blacks joined mainstream newspapers, but their numbers remained
small. One of the few blacks entering newspapers was a young Carl Rowen,
fresh out of the Navy and soon to become one of the first black reporters at a
major daily newspaper, the Minneapolis Tribune. Rowen had become incensed when a
South Carolina sheriff was found innocent of beating a black man shortly after
his release from the Army. "The white daily newspaper carried almost nothing
about blacks except for an item about someone stealing a chicken or being
accused of rape or robbery," Rowan wrote in his memoir. The South Carolina
incident "steeled my resolve to be a writer, to bust open the lily-white
journalistic establishment in America." Rowan entered the world of journalism
knowing it "one of the most discriminatory professions in America."
But where Rowan was ready to take on the industry in the late 1940s, young
minorities in the early 1970s preferred to shun it. In 1968, Trayes had found
blacks made up only 2 percent of news-editorial or photography majors at 83
schools and departments of journalism or communication; 41 percent of those
schools had no black news-ed or photojournalism majors. A year later,
journalism enrollment of blacks had grown by half, but at 3.2 percent their
percentage remained well below that of blacks in the population. Trayes
recommended establishment of special scholarships and loan programs for minority
students by professional societies, press associations, foundations and
journalism alumni. The journalism faculty at Penn State University, he noted,
had voted in 1969 to contribute 1 percent of its salaries to scholarships for
minorities, and the American Newspaper Publishers Association was offering
$12,500 a year in journalism scholarships to minority students.
Editors were quick to respond to the need for recruiting. They had done this
before, in the late 1950s and early 1960s when newspapers faced severe personnel
shortages because of competition from other industries that were recruiting
journalism majors for newly formed communications departments that paid higher
wages than newspapers did. In response, editors had initiated college-recruiting
programs and programs aimed at showing junior and senior high school students
the benefits and joys of working at newspapers. This time, editors
redirected their efforts to include - and focus on - minority students. In 1969,
APME issued a booklet called "Help Wanted," a listing of scholarships, training,
and education opportunities available to minorities in journalism. It re-issued
the booklet in 1972. In 1970, ASNE expanded its editor-in residence program,
established during the earlier recruiting era, to include visits by two
committee members to "predominantly Negro colleges." The Education for
Journalism Committee encouraged more newspapers to sponsor Urban Journalism
Workshops, summer programs designed to expose high school students to newspapers
in the hope that they would be attracted to the career. Five workshops had been
held the previous summer, four of which were sponsored by local newspapers and
The Newspaper Fund, a foundation started with the backing of Dow Jones Co.
Despite the programs and because of the years of neglect, editors faced a tough
task. When APME personnel committee member Bob Rhodes, of the New Brunswick
(N.J.) Home News, asked 103 black colleges about their journalism classes in
1971, only 24 schools replied. When he visited Rutgers University to study why
fewer than a dozen blacks had been among the school's 1,000 journalism graduates
since 1925, black students were quick with their criticisms. Said one student
who had chosen to major in advertising instead of the news-editorial sequence:
"They neglect the black community in their coverage and then try to make up for
it with wishy, washy programs to train black reporters." Most blacks, Rhodes
concluded, distrusted white newspapers and felt "white papers were soliciting
black newspapermen today because it was the right thing to do."
By 1975, the APME Personnel Committee reported that more editors were seeking
out minority applicants through contacts with journalism schools, community
leaders, and current employees. Some newspapers were sponsoring scholarships for
minority high school students to attend college and were guaranteeing summer
employment. Other newspapers were hiring high school students as news clerks and
offering them the training needed to move into reporting positions. The reason
for such efforts was obvious, Joe Doster of The Journal in Winston-Salem, N.C,
said: "Since highly qualified blacks were not knocking on our door, we got more
aggressive in recruiting."
If editors were looking for quick results, they didn't get them. Black
enrollment in college journalism programs inched up slowly. From 1973 to 1974,
it grew from 2.8 percent to 2.95 percent; other minorities accounted for 1.6
percent of journalism students. The percentage of minorities on newspaper
newsroom staffs also grew slowly. The 1973 ASNE Committee on Minority Employment
reported negligible growth from the .075 reported the previous year. Most of
that small growth was attributed to Knight Newspapers' hiring of 44 minority
staff members. In addition to the problems they already faced in recruiting
minority staff members, newspapers now faced a new one: competition from
television and radio stations. "Continued middle-management delay only means
that the more able young minority people will continue to gravitate toward the
electronic branch of journalism with the result that newspapers may find
themselves boxed into a too-little-and-too-late category," Isaacs warned.
Give us quality
As both editors' groups pressured their membership to take more action to
achieve racial diversity in their newsrooms, they met a backlash. Those editors
whose newsrooms remained mostly white offered many reasons to their fellow
editors who began inundating their members with surveys and questions about
their hiring practices. Some editors said they did not have more - or any -
minority staff members because none had ever applied. While some editors
fell back on the excuse that they would hire minority candidates if they could
find them, others said they would be willing to reduce standards for minorities.
Whichever argument was used, many minorities found it cloaked in racism.
Editors had heard the charges and arguments before. Within months after
publication of the Kerner Report, the trade publication Columbia Journalism
Review dedicated a 24-page special section to the report. Questions raised by
the Kerner Report "appear to have been very much on the mind of American
journalism, for the articles presented here emerged almost without
solicitation," CJR editors wrote. Yet a survey of print and broadcast
managers, sponsored by the magazine and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith, showed some editors taking a defensive stance. "We are adding Negroes to
our staff as rapidly as we can find qualified ones," Arthur Gelb, The New York
Times metropolitan editor replied. "As you know, Negroes are very much in demand
and the competition for Negro talent is very keen." Harold W. Anderson,
president of the Omaha World-Herald, reported that his newspaper had "lowered
qualifications in some cases, and provided longer training periods for some"
black staff members.
The Kerner Commission had anticipated the quality arguments "This rings hollow
from an industry where, only yesterday, jobs were scarce and promotion
unthinkable for a man whose skin was black," the commission wrote. In his
candid discussion in 1972, Isaacs had admitted his own unwitting complicity in
blocking newsroom diversity. During 25 years of editing for the Louisville
Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times, Isaacs said, he had crusaded for civil
liberties and equal employment opportunities for all races. Yet in his own
newsroom he had displayed timidity. While he had taken many chances on hiring
white staff members, he had not given minority candidates the same benefit of
the doubt. When he and other editors acted in such a way, they set up a double
standard, he said: "Even some of us whom many of you regard as starry-eyed
visionaries were much less visionary than we should have been - and as a result
contributed to holding back journalism."
The double standard was tough to shake. In its 1973 report, the APME Minority
Employment Committee noted: "Many editors focused on the tension between their
determination to maintain their newspapers' editorial standards and their
eagerness to hire blacks, many of whom have sharply weaker credentials than
average white applicants." Such arguments were empty as far as members of
minority groups were concerned. "When white editors are faced with the challenge
of making judgments about white candidates for newsroom jobs, they seem to be
able to do it with very little problem," Robert Maynard told an ASNE gathering
in 1972. "But when they must make the same judgments about blacks, it is Jackie
Robinson or no-go. They want a sure-fire hitter, a dynamite dude, a winner in
all fields. Much as this is racism it is also the function of the uncertainty
that racism produces." James Aronson, writing in the Antioch Review advanced
the idea. The qualification issue, he said, rarely arises when young talented
whites apply for jobs. "While professional standards obviously have changed, and
college degrees seem almost mandatory for a newspaper job today, there was a
time when no-degree Italians, Jews and Irish developed into some of the
best-known bylines in the newspaper industry. But they were white."
"Don't steal my black reporter"
As editors sought ways to interest more minorities in becoming journalists and
waited for Isaac's seven-year famine to end, they considered other ways to
increase their staffs' diversity. Many turned to a time-honored newspaper
tradition: raiding other newspapers. The practice led to many frustrations as
editors fought on two fronts: to recruit more minority candidates and to reduce
the turnover of those minority staff members they managed to attract.
"Turnover is ridiculous," a New Jersey editor told the ASNE minority committee
in 1973. "The demand for blacks is high, and those who have been on the staff
tend to leave quickly for better jobs." Smaller newspapers, especially, groused
that they were being raided by larger, often East Coast, newspapers. "We are
robbed blind by the fat-cat slobs who are too uppity to do their own training
but just take a bead on the ones we've gathered in and trained and use their
pocketbooks to seduce 'em," a Midwestern editor said. "We can't blame the kids,
but my respect for the lazy big shots is really low."
While some editors blamed lack of qualifications for difficulty in finding
minority employees, fewer than a dozen blamed qualifications as a reason for
minority turnover. Generally, turnover resulted from management problems that
had plagued newspapers for years: low salaries and poor management practices.
Larger newspapers, other industries, and the government often offered larger
salaries. In an atypical, but telling, case the APME Newsroom Management
Committee found in 1975 that eight editors (out of 384 surveyed) admitted they
paid minority people less than they paid other employees in the same job
bracket. When Harold V. Lappin of The News in Saginaw, Mich., interviewed
thirty minority news people for the APME Personnel Committee in 1972, he found
many disappointed with the management practices at their newspapers. Although 23
of the 30 journalists said they liked their jobs, they voiced serious and
sometimes bitter complaints about their managers' attitudes toward them. The
journalists complained about a lack of training and coaching, about being
ignored after they were hired, and about the lack of minorities in
middle-management positions to understand the new perspective (and new sense of
news judgment) minorities were bringing to the newsroom. "If you're going to
hire a black reporter in terms of your quota, fine," One black woman reporter in
an Eastern city told Lappin. "Just be honest about what your reasons are. But if
you're going to hire a black reporter because you think he or she is going to
get into the black community and get some decent stories - well, you'd better
handle those stories decently or the reporter's being black is not going to last
very long." 
If the minority staffers were showing signs of frustration, so were the editors
who had fought to convince their colleagues that newsroom diversity was the
honorable and moral thing to do. Yet just as quickly as efforts to increase
hiring of minority journalists had risen, so did they begin to show signs of
leveling off. "What is missing generally is the sense of urgency expressed
in the 1969-1972 period," the APME Minority Employment Committee reported in
1973. A year later, after three years of studying the issue and urging
editors to do more, the ASNE Minority Employment Committee estimated that total
minority employment at the nation's newspapers had "inched upward to perhaps 1
percent." The gains had come mainly from newspapers in the East, the South and a
few Far West states. The committee noted that editors were wearying of the
committee's repeated requests for information and fewer were returning
questionnaires. James Batten of the Charlotte Observer said that "the great
pressure of the late 1960's and early 1970's has receded . . . and further
progress will come slowly as the awareness of newspapers' genuine demand for
black talent trickles into the black communities and gradually produces a more
adequate supply of capable applicants." The committee recommended to the board
of directions that its work be suspended and reactivated at a later time.
The ASNE board concurred and the Minority Employment Committee lay dormant for a
Records of the groups' proceedings provide no insight into why ASNE resurrected
the committee to provide a report for the 1978 convention. But they do show the
lack of progress newspapers had made in diversifying their newsrooms in the ten
years since the Kerner Commission report. In what was called "the most extensive
survey of its type," Jay Harris, associate director of the Gannett Urban
Journalism Center at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism,
reported that minorities now comprised about 4 percent of the total newsroom
population. That percentage, while more than four times larger than the
percentage reported in the early 1970s, still failed to meet the percentage of
minorities in the U.S. as a whole. More important, the committee feared the
percentages would not continue to rise. "The conscious effort to recruit
minority newsroom employees has been considerably less intense in more recent
years than it was in the first reaction to the Kerner Commission report," the
committee's report stated. As a result, the committee recommended, and the ASNE
board approved the Year 2000 goal.
At that important ASNE meeting in 1972, Robert Maynard had invited editors to
see how their newsrooms appeared through the eyes of a black journalist. "What
he sees is not just a pervasive whiteness that can only suggest racism in the
raw; he also sees hypocrisy in this . . . because newspapers are frequently
pious in their platitudes about racism and injustice in some other fellow's
barnyard." Perhaps it is impossible for one person to see life through the
eyes of another. Certainly the flurry of activity shortly after the release of
the Kerner Report indicates that many editors did understand that only when they
had the eyes of more minority journalists to help cover their communities could
newspapers fulfill the Hutchins Commission's ideal of providing a fair and
representational portrait of all groups in society. The failure of newspapers to
make much progress in minority hiring during the ten years after Kerner can be
explained by at least four factors. More important, it can help explain why ASNE
has admitted newsroom parity cannot be met by 2000 and has set a new goal of the
The first factor contributing to the lack of progress after Kerner can be seen
as editors' demonstrating the short attention span of journalists accustomed to
a daily newspaper deadline in which the world is recreated during every 24-hour
cycle. Norman Isaacs had warned editors in 1972 that they faced seven years of
lean times before enough young minority members could be recruited and trained
for entry into the business. Yet by the mid-1970s, editors' enthusiasm for the
cause of newsroom diversity had waned. Second, while both APME and ASNE spent
considerable time and effort surveying newspaper editors to determine the extent
of minority staffing in newsrooms and editors' views on how to do a better job
of attracting more minority staffers, neither group gave much attention to the
very people they were trying to recruit. With the exception of Harold V.
Lappin's work for APME in interviewing minority journalists about their
attitudes toward their jobs, editors mostly were talking at other editors.
Third, top editors who supported the idea of increasing newsroom diversity
failed to instill those ideas - and the philosophy behind them - to the
mid-level newsroom editors who did the hiring. Finally, editors failed to
education the more recalcitrant of their colleagues on the reasons why
newspapers owe it to their readers and to the democratic ideals of the republic
to present a fair and representational portrait of society if they are to
succeed in carrying out their role in a democratic society.
The first two factors in newspapers' failure to make much progress on newsroom
diversity in the 1970s don't apply to later efforts to meet the Year 2000 goal.
First, when the ASNE board adopted the year 2000 goal in 1978, it displayed a
great deal of patience - some would say too much patience. In 1978, the Year
2000 goal had appeared "fair and attainable." Second, at least in the 1990s,
professional associations and academic researchers have increased their efforts
to explore the world of the minority journalist. In that earlier period,
editors had no one place to go to ask minority group members their views. In
December 1975, a group of 44 newsmen and newswomen formed the National
Association Black Journalists. Since then, minority journalists have formed the
National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists
Association, and the Native American Journalists Association. ASNE, APME, and
the major newspapers ownership groups regularly send representatives to the
minority associations' annual meetings to attend their job fairs and seek
representatives of those organizations for their views on newsroom diversity and
other issues affecting newspapers. Both editors groups have full-time executives
in charge of promoting diversity.
The last two factors contributing to the scant progress in the ten years after
Kerner, however, share some similarities with the period following the adoption
of the Year 2000 goal. They also suggest the same solution. In the periods
following the Kerner Report and adoption of the Year 2000 goal, top editors
worried that mid-level editors - still predominately white - who were
responsible for hiring decisions did not understand the need for racial parity
in the newsroom. Some newspaper chains have instituted programs in which
managers' salaries are based on meeting certain diversity goals in
employment. But the bonus systems raise a question: If racial parity is
achieved because of monetary compensation, is the right goal accomplished for
the wrong reason? If, instead of bonuses, top editors gave their mid-level
editors copies of the Hutchins Commission Report or the Kerner Report, those
editors might have a better idea of the events and the philosophy that
precipitated the push for newsroom parity. Similarly, many white journalists,
like those recalcitrant editors of the early 1970s still don't agree with the
concept of racial parity. A 1996 APME survey showed that 23 percent of white
journalists did not agree that a news staff should reflect society in terms of
ethnic make-up; 14 percent did not think a diverse newsroom staff strengthens
new coverage and credibility. If those journalists do not agree with the
concept of racial parity, perhaps it is because in journalism schools and
newspaper newsrooms they have not learned the responsibilities of newspapers in
a free society and the problems that a history of segregated newsrooms can
In 1968, the Kerner Commission had delivered a harsh message to the news media.
Their portrayal of blacks was "inexcusable in an institution that has the
mission to inform and education the whole of our society." Only through
diversifying their ranks of news workers would the news media correct such
inaccurate portrayals. The percentage of minorities in U.S. mainstream daily
newspaper newsrooms has grown from less than one percent in 1968 to 11.46
percent in 1998, but still trails the U.S. minority population of 26
percent. The question now is whether the portrayal of minorities is any more
representational or whether editors' delay in following up on the Kerner
Commission's recommendations also caused a delay in presenting Americans with
the portrayal of society they deserve.
American Society of Newspaper Editors. Problems of Journalism. Yearly
proceedings ASNE. Reston, VA: ASNE, yearly 1968-78.
Associated Press Managing Editors. The Red Book. Yearly proceedings of APME. New
York: The Associated Press, yearly 1957-1978.
Books / Reports
APME Newsroom Diversity Study. September 1996.
APME Journalist Satisfaction Study. (Minneapolis: MORI Research Inc., 1990).
ASNE. The Changing Face of the Newsroom (Washington, D.C.: American Society of
Newspaper Editors, 1989).
Commission on Freedom of the Press. A Fair and Responsible Press. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1947.
Dawkins, Wayne. Black Journalists: The NABJ Story. Sicklerville, N.J.: August
Johnstone, John W.C., Edward Slawski, and William W. Bowman. The News People: A
Sociological Portrait of American Journalists and Their Work. Urbana: University
of Illinois Press, 1976.
The Kerner Report: The 1968 Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil
Disorders. New York: Pantheon. 1968, 1988.
Rowan, Carl T. Breaking Barriers. Boston: Little Brown, 1991.
Gerald Stone, Examining Newspapers: What Research Reveals About American
Newspapers. Vol. 20, The Sage CommText Series. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1987.
Voakes, Paul S. The Newspaper Journalists of the '90s. Reston, VA: American
Society of Newspaper Editors, 1997.
Weaver, David H, and Cleveland G. Wilhoit. The American Journalist: A Portrait
of U.S. News People and Their Work. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1986.
________. The American Journalist in the 1990s: U.S. News People at the End of
an Era. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1986.
Davis, Junetta, and Reg Westmoreland. "Minority Editorial Workers on Texas Daily
Newspapers." Journalism Quarterly 51, no 1 (1974): 132-134.
Demo, Lori. Journalists Are Personnel, Too: Editors' Views of Newsroom
Management Issues, 1955-1971." paper presented to the History Division,
Association for Education in Journalism Southeast Colloquium, Lexington, Ky.,
"Diversity Delayed." American Journalism Review, December 1998, 9.
Guimary, Donald L. "Ethnic Minorities in Newsrooms of Major Market Media in
California." Journalism Quarterly 71, no. 4 (1984): 827-830, 834.
Harris, Jay T. Harris, and Christine Harris. "Editors Attitudes Reveal Wide
Diversity on Employing Minorities." The Bulletin of the American Society of
Newspaper Editors, October 1981, 11-14.
Klein, Woody. "News Media and Race Relations: A Self-Portrait." Columbia
Journalism Review Fall 1968, 41-49.
Najjar, Orayb. "ASNE Efforts Increase Minorities in Newsroom." Newspaper
Research Journal 16, no. 4 (1995): 126-140.
Pease, Ted. "Race, Gender and Job Satisfaction in Newspaper Newsrooms." In
Readings in Media Management, ed. Stephen Lacy, Ardyth B. Sohn, and Robert H.
Giles, 97-122. Columbia South Carolina: Media Management and Economics Division,
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1992.
Pease, Ted, and J. Frazier Smith. "The Newsroom Barometer: Job Satisfaction and
the Impact of Racial Diversity at U.S. Daily Newspapers." The Ohio Journalism
Monograph Series No. 1, July 1991.
Shipler David K. "Blacks in the Newsroom, Progress? Yes, but . . ." Columbia
Journalism Review May/June 1998, 29.
Trayes, Edward J. "The Negro in Journalism: Surveys Show Low Ratios." Journalism
Quarterly 46, no. 1 (1969): 5-8.
________. "Still Few Blacks in Dailies, But 50% More in J-Schools, Recent
Surveys Indicate." Journalism Quarterly 47, no 3 (1970): 356-336.
________. "Black Journalists on U.S. Metropolitan Daily Newspapers: A Follow-up
Study." Journalism Quarterly 56, no. 4 (1979): 711-714.
 American Society of Newspaper Editors, Problems in Journalism (Washington,
D.C.: ASNE, 1978), 402-407 (hereafter cited as ASNE followed by the year of the
 The Kerner Report: The 1968 Report of the National Advisory Commission on
Civil Disorders (New York: Pantheon, 1968, 1988), 384.
 Ibid., 366.
 Commission on Freedom of the Press, A Fair and Responsible Press (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1947), 1, 26.
 ASNE, 1978, 403.
 The Kerner Report, 387.
 ASNE did not print a volume in 1945. In 1982, it changed the name of the
publication to merely
ASNE - followed by the year of the proceedings.
 In an earlier effort in this area, Najjar also reviewed the ASNE and APME
proceedings regarding the Year 2000 goal. Najjar's purpose was to determine the
effectiveness of affirmative action programs in an organization that set goals
for itself and then attempts to implement those goals. In contrast, the current
study attempts to answer the question of why editors took ten years to publicly
proclaim their commitment to racial parity and to offer suggestions on why the
Year 2000 goal could not be met. See Orayb Najjar, "ASNE Efforts Increase
Minorities in Newsroom," Newspaper Research Journal 16, no. 4 (1995): 126-140.
 Gerald Stone, Examining Newspapers: What Research Reveals About American
Newspapers, vol. 20, The Sage CommText Series (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage,
1987), 85. The earliest research into minority representation in newsrooms was
conducted by Edward J. Trayes shortly before and after the Kerner Commission
issued its report. See Edward J. Trayes, "The Negro in Journalism: Surveys Show
Low Ratios," Journalism Quarterly 46, no. 1 (1969): 5-8; and Trayes, "Still Few
Blacks in Dailies, But 50% More in J-Schools, Recent Surveys Indicate,"
Journalism Quarterly 47, no 3 (1970): 356-360. Except for Trayes' work, early
studies on minorities in the newspaper industry tended to focus on limited
geographical areas. See Junetta Davis and Reg Westmoreland, "Minority Editorial
Workers on Texas Daily Newspapers," Journalism Quarterly 51, no 1 (1974):
132-134; and Donald L. Guimary, "Ethnic Minorities in Newsrooms of Major Market
Media in California," Journalism Quarterly 71, no. 4 (1984): 827-830, 834. Since
1971, a series of sweeping studies has explored journalists' attitudes, values,
and beliefs. In the first two works, minorities received only passing mention.
See John W.C. Johnstone, Edward J. Slawski, and William W. Bowman, The News
People: A Sociological Portrait of American Journalists and Their Work (Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 1976). In a replication of the Johnstone survey,
David H. Weaver and Cleveland G. Wilhoit also treated minority journalists in
passing. See Weaver and Wilhoit, The American Journalist: A Portrait of U.S.
News People and Their Work (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986). When
Weaver and Wilhoit conducted a second replication in 1992, they devoted an
entire chapter to issues affecting minority journalists. See Weaver and Wilhoit,
The American Journalist in the 1990s: U.S. News People at the End of an Era
(Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1996).
 After years of speculation that the Year 2000 goal would not be met, the
ASNE board admitted as much on October 20, 1998. Despite twenty years of
diversity efforts, minority employment in newsroom professional roles had grown
to only 11.5 percent, compared with a total U.S. minority population of 26
percent. In what it called a mission statement, ASNE set a new goal of newsroom
parity by the year 2025 or sooner. See "Diversity Delayed," American Journalism
Review, December 1998, 9.
 Through their histories both groups have relied on committees of members
to spend the year studying topics of importance to newspapers and editors and to
report their work to the memberships at the annual conventions. The two editors
groups represent different memberships and their committees and convention
topics reflect those differences. ASNE's membership is the top newsroom editor,
who often operates as a liaison with other departments within the newspaper,
such as advertising and circulation, and with outside groups, such as readers
and business leaders. ASNE's standing committees focused on such topics as
freedom of information issues, journalism education, and current issues in the
news. APME's membership includes both top editors and managing editors, who
usually are in charge of the daily activities of the newsroom and so might work
more closely with individual staff members on a daily basis. APME's committees
tended to study topics involving the news report (such as sports coverage),
newsroom personnel, and journalism education.
 The Kerner Report, 366,
 The Associated Press, The APME Red Book 1967: An Account of the Annual
Convention of The Associated Press Managing Editors Assn. at Chicago, Illinois,
October 17-20, 1967, and Reports of the 1967 APME Continuing Study Committees
(New York: The Associated Press) (hereafter cited as Red Book followed by the
year of the proceedings).
 Trayes, "The Negro in Journalism," 6, 8.
 Trayes, "Still Few Blacks in Dailies," 356, 358.
 ASNE, 1970, 247.
 ASNE, 1972, 234. By actual count, the ASNE study identified 253 minorities
in professional positions in newsrooms. Because "we obviously cannot cover every
newspaper in the United States," the committee added 50 people to that total to
reach the 300 figure. As Isaacs began his report, Domingo Nick Reyes of the
National Mexican-American Anti-Defamation Committee interrupted to complain that
ASNE "exposes the racial-cultural prejudice that only blacks and whites are
worth writing about or involving in the media." In fact, the ASNE committee had
counted "members of the standard minority groups (Negroes, Mexican-Americans,
Puerto Ricans, Indians, Cubans and those of Oriental descent)." Kilpatrick,
editor and publisher of the San Antonio Express, spoke at length about his
newspaper's successful efforts in hiring Mexican-American staffers into the
 Ibid., 235-238.
 Ibid., 140.
 Ibid., 147.
 ASNE, 1973, 18-19.
 ASNE, 1972, 138.
 Ibid., 233.
 Ibid., 135.
 The Kerner Report, 385.
 Wayne Dawkins, Black Journalists: The NABJ Story (Sicklerville, N.J.:
August Press, 1993), 5.
 Carl T. Rowan, Breaking Barriers (Boston: Little Brown, 1991), 64-67.
 Trayes, "The Negro in Journalism," 8.
 Trayes, "Still Few Blacks in Dailies," 358.
 Ibid., 360.
 Lori Demo, "Journalists Are Personnel, Too: Editors' Views of Newsroom
Management Issues, 1955-1971," paper presented to the History Division,
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Southeast
Colloquium, Lexington, Ky., March 6, 1999. From the mid-1950s through the
mid-1960s, both ASNE and APME members often spoke of the shortage of candidates
for jobs. A 1966 ASNE report concluded any shortage was a myth (ASNE 1966, 217)
Although a comparable APME study committee a year later was reluctant to declare
the shortage over, it noted that enrollment in college journalism programs was
booming: For the 1966-67 school year, 22,339 men and women were enrolled in
journalism or pre-journalism courses at 118 schools, 16.2 percent more than the
previous year, and nearly double the number at the start of the decade (Red
Book, 1967, 216-217).
 Red Book, 1972, 239.
 ASNE, 1970, 248.
 Red Book, 1971, 193-194, 199.
 Red Book, 1975, 229.
 Ibid., 228.
 ASNE, 1973, 19.
 ASNE 1973, 18-19.
 Red Book, 1967, 213.
 Journalism and the Kerner Report, Columbia Journalism Review, Fall 1968,
 Woody Klein, "News Media and Race Relations: A Self-Portrait, Columbia
Journalism Review, Fall 1968, 44, 46.
 The Kerner Report, 385.
 Ibid., 134-135.
 ASNE, 1973, 241.
 ASNE, 1972, 137.
 ASNE, 1973, 243.
 ASNE, 1973, 242-43.
 Red Book, 1975, 229.
 Red Book, 1971, 235-37.
 Red Book, 1975, 228.
 Red Book, 1973, 267.
 ASNE, 1974, 245.
 ASNE, 1978, 402-407.
 ASNE, 1972, 136.
 As early as 1981, many editors questioned whether the parity goal would be
reached. A study of 382 newspaper editors found that 40 percent thought the goal
was attainable, 38 percent said it was not attainable and 22 percent expressed
some reservation about it. A few editors continued to show the belligerent
resistance that had been common a few years earlier. As one editor responded to
the survey: "Jesus Christ! Are we going to bus journalists????" Jay T. Harris
and Christine Harris, "Editors Attitudes Reveal Wide Diversity on Employing
Minorities," The Bulletin of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (October
1981), 12-13. This issue of The Bulletin contained a 28-page special report on
women and minorities in the newsroom. In the early 1990s, Najjar asked members
of both editor groups' minority committee various questions concerning the Year
2000 goal and minority recruitment. Based on responses from the editors (Najjar
did not say how many of the 74 members were contacted or how many replied),
Najjar concluded that newspapers were not likely to meet the goal. See Najjar,
"ASNE Efforts Increase Minorities in Newsroom," 136.
 ASNE, 1978, 407.
 Some studies have dealt exclusively with measuring minority journalists
representation in the newsroom or attitudes and beliefs regarding journalism.
See Najjar, "ASNE Efforts Increase Minorities in Newsroom;" Trayes, "Black
Journalists on U.S. Metropolitan Daily Newspapers: A Follow-up Study,"
Journalism Quarterly 56, no. 4 (1979): 711-714; Ted Pease, "Race, Gender and Job
Satisfaction in Newspaper Newsrooms," in Readings in Media Management, ed.
Stephen Lacy, Ardyth B. Sohn, and Robert H. Giles (Columbia South Carolina:
Media Management and Economics Division, Association for Education in Journalism
and Mass Communication, 1992), 97-122; Ted Pease and J. Frazier Smith, "The
Newsroom Barometer: Job Satisfaction and the Impact of Racial Diversity at U.S.
Daily Newspapers," The Ohio Journalism Monograph Series No. 1 (July 1991); and
APME Newsroom Diversity Study (September 1996). Other research on minority
journalists has been part of broader studies on the values, attitudes, and
beliefs of all journalists. See Weaver and Wilhoit, The American Journalist in
the 1990s, APME Journalist Satisfaction Study, (Minneapolis: MORI Research Inc.,
1990); ASNE, The Changing Face of the Newsroom (Washington, D.C.: American
Society of Newspaper Editors, 1989); and Paul S. Voakes, The Newspaper
Journalists of the '90s. (Reston, VA: American Society of Newspaper Editors,
 David K. Shipler, "Blacks in the Newsroom, Progress? Yes, but . . ."
Columbia Journalism Review May/June 1998, 29.
 Shipler, "Blacks in the Newsroom," 29.
 Ibid., 27.
 The Kerner Report, 366.
 "Diversity Delayed," 9.