Digital-only platforms drive race and gender inclusion among newsrooms in 2019 ASNE Newsroom Diversity Survey

New Orleans, LA (Sept. 10, 2019) - Journalists of color make up nearly a third of the full-time workforce among online-only news organizations, according to data collected in the 2019 ASNE Newsroom Diversity Survey. The survey reflects newsroom demographics as they existed on Dec. 31, 2018.

The data visualization for this year’s survey, provided by Google News Lab, will be released in the coming weeks. Our website, newsleaders.org/diversity, will be updated at that time to provide those components to accompany our data.

According to the data, some 30.8 percent of salaried workers at online-only publications are people of color, a gain of 5 percentage points over last year’s figures, in which people of color comprised 25.6 percent of journalists employed in newsrooms with no print presence.

Participation in the 2019 ASNE Newsroom Diversity Survey also climbed more than five percentage points to 22.8 percent this year, from a historic low of 17 percent in the 2018 survey. The participating organizations reflect the diversity of news and information outlets serving communities across the country, including legacy newspapers, multi-city digital media start-ups, business publications and issue-specific sites.

Among online-only newsrooms, women make up 50 percent of salaried workers, a figure that is unchanged from the 2018 survey data. Women make up 41.8 percent of all newsroom workers (in both print/digital and online-only newsrooms) in this year’s survey, up from 41.6 percent last year. 

Overall, people of color represent 21.9 percent of the salaried workforce among newsrooms that responded to this year's Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey. While encouraging, these figures cannot be generalized to interpret the landscape of the U.S. journalism industry as a whole because the survey relies on information collected from a convenience sample of organizations that volunteer to participate. 

Nearly 200 journalists who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender completed an additional self-administered survey that was offered this year, which was distributed through a link forwarded to newsrooms, and via the Association of Gay and Lesbian Journalists’ weekly newsletter. Of the journalists who completed the self-administered survey, 78 percent identified as white, while 7.5 percent identified as African American or Black. Another 7.5 percent identified as biracial or multiracial, and nearly 3 percent identified as Asian.

The survey is key to helping the news industry build more diverse and inclusive journalism communities. ASNE uses this tool, among others, to encourage newsrooms across the nation to be transparent. We commend those news organizations that release their diversity numbers as a way to demonstrate and track their commitment to equality and representation in journalism, and encourage others to do the same.

“We’re encouraged by greater participation in this year’s survey,” said Meredith Clark, lead researcher and an assistant professor at the University of Virginia. “Still, the data reflect some areas of concern, particularly at the newsroom leadership levels.”

Among respondents, the number of organizations with at least one non-white person in one of the top three newsroom leadership roles fell slightly, down from 27.8 percent in last year’s survey to 26.4 percent. In print/digital newsrooms, the decline was more significant from 28.1 percent to 25.6 percent. That number was up a single percentage point among online-only newsrooms, to 29 percent from 28 percent the year prior. 

Overall, people of color make up only 18.8 percent of newsroom managers at both print/digital and online-only publications. Forty percent of management roles are filled by women among organizations that participated in the 2019 survey. 

The results summarize responses from 429 news organizations, including 267 newspapers and 65 online-only news sites (some organizations did not specify).

This year's survey again included open-ended questions asking news organizations to provide specific examples of stories and other best practices that show their commitment to diversity recruitment and retention. 


Other highlights of the survey showed:

  • In the 2019 survey, people of color comprised 21.9 percent of salaried employees reported by all newsrooms in our survey. Among daily newspapers, about 21 percent of salaried employees were racial minorities (compared to 21.6 percent in 2018), and 30.8 percent of salaried employees at online-only news websites were journalists of color (compared to 24.6 percent in 2018). 

  • Representation among women in the journalism workforce held steady at 41.8 percent among all organizations, nearly identical to last year’s numbers. Women make up 50.1 percent of salaried employees at online-only organizations, up from 47.8 percent the year before.

  • Of all newsroom managers, 18.8 percent were people of color, a figure consistent with the prior year’s data, and 40.5 percent were women. Two percent of managers in this year’s data were identified as gender nonbinary. 

“Diversity and inclusion are critical to our news industry’s success,” said Katrice Hardy, executive editor, Greenville News, and the chair of News Leaders Association’s Diversity Committee. “If we don’t reflect our communities and our changing nation, how can we ever rebuild and keep the trust of our readers? How can we truly produce fair and balanced journalism without everyone having a seat at the table to offer their insights and perspectives?” 

The News Leaders Association will continue to advocate for a diverse and inclusive workforce.

“We thank those who participated but we implore more of our newsrooms and journalists to do so, and more importantly, to use the results to reexamine their own diversity and inclusion efforts,” said Michael Days, vice president for diversity and inclusion, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the president of the News Leaders Association.

“Congrats to the Diversity Committee for keeping alive this important work that began more than 40 years ago,” added Days. “We may pivot to a more targeted survey, but the reviewing of our industry’s diversity efforts will remain a mainstay of what we do.”

ASNE continued its partnership with the Google News Lab, which has produced data visualizations of this year's survey results and historical data dating back to 2001. The News Lab's interactive website will serve as a visual archive of the ASNE survey data, in addition to the diversity page at newsleaders.org

ASNE also continues to partner with the Democracy Fund, which helped create a more comprehensive and data-driven survey that catalogues newsroom diversity numbers for U.S. print and online publications. The Knight Foundation is also a key supporter of the annual survey.

In 2012, the ASNE Diversity Committee created the Minority Leadership Institute to train and develop up-and-coming, mid-level newsroom leaders and connect them with a network of established ASNE leaders. In 2016, ASNE rebranded the program as the Emerging Leaders Institute to include all emerging leaders with diverse backgrounds. ASNE has hosted more than 20 institutes since the first one in 2012.

The American Society of News Editors has officially completed its merger with the Associated Press Media Editors to become the News Leaders Association this week in New Orleans. The News Leaders Association will continue to offer leadership training in 2020.  


About the ASNE survey

Since its inception in 1978, ASNE's diversity research has revealed the degree to which newspapers and, more lately, online-only news websites reflect the public they aim to serve. Over the years, the survey has been revised to maintain its relevance as a useful and aspirational benchmark for racial and gender diversity.

In 1998, ASNE began to ask for the numbers of women employed in newsrooms. Until then, the research tracked only employment and general job categories for black, Asian American, Hispanic and Native American employees.

In 2014, the survey began asking for the number of women and people of color in top newsroom leadership positions.

In 2016, we made two notable changes which we have continued to apply to our survey in years since.

First, we stopped estimating the number of journalists working in newsrooms, as the changing structure of modern newsrooms made it increasingly impractical and error-prone to try to estimate the number of working journalists.

A second major change was that we did not ask news organizations to classify employees by job category, other than breaking out leadership separately, because new jobs outside of the norm are constantly being created in many newsrooms.

This year, we expanded job-type categories and created a self-administered survey for journalists who identify as LGBTQIA+, recognizing that federal law has yet to include protections for members of LGBTQIA+ communities. 

Additionally, this year’s survey questions asked organizations to draw distinctions between salaried workers and contract workers, i.e., those receiving a 1040 in comparison to those who received a 1099. This change brings to light the contributions of journalists doing contract-based work.

For survey methodology, click here.

For detailed tables, click here.

This year’s survey research was conducted by Meredith D. Clark, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, and administered by Kara Fitzgibbon, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia.


About the American Society of News Editors

The American Society of News Editors focuses on leadership development and journalism-related issues. Founded in 1922 as a nonprofit professional organization, ASNE promotes fair, principled journalism; defends and protects First Amendment rights; and fights for freedom of information and open government. Leadership, innovation, diversity and inclusion in coverage and the journalism work force, opinion journalism, news literacy and the sharing of ideas are also key ASNE initiatives.


About Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. We believe the best days of American democracy lie ahead. Bipartisan solutions can modernize our elections. Digital advances can help people engage in civic life. New incentives can encourage political leaders to find principled compromise and address our country’s greatest challenges. The Democracy Fund is a resource for those who want to strengthen our nation’s democracy. We invest in change makers whose ideas and energy can make a difference. We advocate for solutions that can bring lasting improvement to our political system. We build bridges that help people come together to serve the nation, moving us closer to the ideal of a government of, by, and for the people.


About Google News Lab

The News Lab is a team within the Google News Initiative whose mission is to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to drive innovation in news. Offering partnerships and training in over 50 countries, the News Lab brings the best of Google technology to tackle important challenges in journalism today.


About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.


About the University of Virginia’s Department of Media Studies

The Media Studies Department is focused on the forms and effects of media: books, radio, film, television, photography, print, digital and electronic media. It is critically engaged with the creative analysis, production, and research into traditional and emerging forms of media. The department emphasizes digital media through approaches to its history, theory, and technology and their impact upon contemporary life. Subjects of study include: aesthetics and form; individual perception; the history of media; the ethics and effects of media in the arena of policy studies; the social impact of media on public opinion; and the relations between media and the law.


About The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education promotes diversity in the news media through improved coverage, hiring, business practices and training programs that equip journalists with leadership, multimedia skills and subject expertise for news organizations across platforms. Their primary mission is to ensure that all segments of our diverse society are fairly, accurately and credibly portrayed.


About the News Leaders Association

The American Society of News Editors and the Associated Press Media Editors have joined forces to become the News Leaders Association. NLA aims to foster and develop the highest standards of trustworthy, truth-seeking journalism; to advocate for open, honest and transparent government; to fight for free speech and an independent press; to nurture the next generation of news leaders committed to spreading knowledge that informs democracy. Our goal is for all citizens to be informed by accurate, truthful, independent reporting so they can demand the best from our democratic institutions.