Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 11, 2001 / 18 Nissan, 5761

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


Decrying hoopla over diversity in newsrooms

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- THERE are two kinds of stupid. One kind of stupid spills soup in someone else's lap. The other kind spills it in his own. Similarly, questioning the merits of "diversity" mania in America can get you into trouble. But questioning the wisdom of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, for a syndicated columnist like myself, is just plain barmy. But let's do it anyway.

There has been so much thumbsucking about diversity in the newsroom that I wouldn't be surprised if there were a single viable thumbprint left at the Columbia Journalism School. At the forefront of the movement to get more minorities into journalism is the American Society of Newspaper Editors, whose members are not merely powerful, but very, very attractive (just covering my bases if any of you are thinking about buying my column).

Indeed, ASNE is publicly dedicated to achieving an outright quota in minority hiring - it insists 38.2 percent of newsroom journalists need to be minorities by 2025. Let's just call it a goal and a timetable and not an outright quota. Still, that's an ambitious number.

Which is why, at last week's annual meeting Washington, so many ASNE honchos (all wonderful people who are kind to their mothers) were in semi-official panic over the fact that, for the first time in the 23 years they've been surveying newsrooms, minority representation went down.

Tim McGuire, the incoming president of ASNE and the editor of the indispensable Minneapolis Star Tribune, declared, "Our industry's longtime effort to increase newsroom diversity has obviously hit a major snag."

So, how major is this snag? Well this dismaying first-time drop in minority representation was a staggering drop of 0.21 percent points. Yes, that decimal point is in the right place.

This year, the number of minority journalists working in daily newspapers was 11.64 percent as opposed to 11.85 percent the year before. If this study had even a 2 percent margin of error, then that 23-year streak would have remained intact. And yet Austin American-Statesman editor Rich Oppel, the outgoing president of ASNE (a man so talented he can bake 12-minute brownies in seven minutes) said the results are "simply not acceptable."

Now, I see nothing wrong with diversity in the newsroom. But I do get confused by what these guys mean by diversity.

Big-league editors swear that the media isn't biased to the left. And that may even be true in some cases. Surely, many journalists are capable of suspending their own biases in favor of getting just the facts. But if that is the case, why is diversity needed so desperately? If the role of the journalist is to be dispassionately uninvolved in the story, why will the news be so much better if Asians or blacks are writing the story?

The Washington Post's ombudsman explained in a column this week that increased diversity is the best way to guarantee "accurate and penetrating journalism" and the only way "newspapers are going to survive in this increasingly diverse and multimedia country."

Well, if the ethnic, racial and gender backgrounds of a reporter can have such a huge impact on coverage, isn't it possible that some other things influence coverage as well? Say, oh, I don't know: your politics?

Recall that according to a Freedom Forum survey, 89 percent of journalists voted for Bill Clinton in 1992. Hiring more minorities is great, but the real minorities in newsrooms aren't blacks and Hispanics, but conservatives.

Or, what about religion? Surveys have shown that only about 11 percent of journalists attend church on a weekly basis, while more than one-third of Americans do. Wouldn't American journalism also be richer if more white evangelical Christians worked at major newspapers? Maybe if The Washington Post had a few more hanging around, it might not have let a front-page story slip by describing evangelicals as "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command."

There's another flaw to the ASNE view of diversity. Obviously, the industry is not losing minority employees because of pervasive racism in the newspaper business, though the media is quick to assume racism when other institutions are slow in their diversity efforts.

Minorities are leaving because they can get better jobs elsewhere. Surely, this is a sign of social success in that, despite its best efforts, the news business can't compete with the demand for qualified minorities.

But it is also a sign that the newspaper business doesn't pay its employees well enough. This is true of whites and minorities alike. But it is clearly the most true of the hard-working patriots who decide whether or not to buy syndicated columns.



To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.

Up


04/06/01: Dan Rather tries to dodge the liberal-bias bullet
04/04/01: NOW THEY'VE GONE TOO FAR!
03/30/01: No time to clown around with cloning
03/28/01: Cast a negative ballot for Internet voting
03/23/01: Hollywood's high on action films, for global market success
03/21/01: Republicans should be cautious of 'compassionate conservatism'
03/19/01: "Traffic" moves propaganda into drug-policy debate
03/15/01: Appeal of 'Sopranos' lies in strict code of honor
03/09/01: Organic claims are cleverly written fiction
03/07/01: Snow job: There the media go again
03/02/01: It's a vision thing
02/28/01: SAT is best measure of general aptitude
02/26/01: Easing the estate tax
02/23/01: Clinton defenders finally admit to his power abuses
02/21/01: Failed dot-coms missed rules of the marketplace
02/15/01: Clinton heeds my Harlem advice
02/12/01: Harlem could be Bill's best move yet
02/06/01: Lying, betrayal essential parts of journalism
01/18/01: How to polarize candidates
01/15/01: Dems never tire of using 'race card'
01/11/01: Taking the celebrity out of politics
01/08/01: Unfairly 'borking' Ashcroft
01/04/01: Want to be more efficient? Increase number of politicians
01/02/01: Whole lotta exploitin' goin' on
12/28/00: Hypocrisy police pounce on Clinton book deal
12/26/00: Sometimes, it's good to be a Grinch
12/21/00: Though symbolic, Bush's diversity sends a message
12/19/00: Gore concedes --- but why did it take so long?
12/14/00: Is 'Queer as Folk' what we asked for?
12/11/00: Election mess hardly a 'civics lesson'
12/07/00: Clinton's tacky legacy
12/05/00: Marriage civilizes the manly beast
11/30/00: Gore's speech more pompous posturing
11/28/00: Rabble-rousing Dems act irresponsibly
11/27/00: Duking it out with democracy
11/16/00: Issues irrelevant to most voters
11/14/00: Gore's us-vs.-them campaign
11/10/00: Dot-com disasters missing brand-name success
11/06/00: Conventional wisdom turns with the polls
11/03/00: Clinton photo, appropriately, hits below the belt
11/01/00: Electoral college ensures democracy
10/30/00: New Yorkers, media letting Hillary off the hook
10/23/00: Gore needs to put first things first
10/20/00: Treatment of Farrakhan glosses over odd issues
10/16/00: Secrets of election can be found in 'Star Trek'
10/12/00: Arafat hardly 'provoked' into violence
10/10/00: Undecided voters may be ignorant, not discriminating
10/06/00: The importance of character isn't debatable
10/03/00: Conservatives are the true friends of science You know why?
09/29/00: Symbolic 'born alive' vote makes sense
09/25/00: Conservatives adopt abandoned liberalism
09/21/00: Ventura's media backpedaling makes fiction of his new book
09/18/00: Tough questions target Hillary Clinton's elitism
09/14/00: Hollywood morality to blame
09/11/00: Specifically, AlGore's detailed plan is meaningless
09/07/00: Time-honored tradition: Insult the press
09/05/00: Scouting out justice
08/30/00: The ADL's historical revisionism
08/28/00: Sitcoms will survive, post-"Survivor"
08/24/00: Candidates' choice of movies shows refreshing honesty
08/21/00: An AlGore victory? Only if dead birds fly
08/17/00: AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs
08/15/00: Proud and true: He's a Jew
08/10/00: Exploiting religion would be tragic mistake
08/08/00: Cheney serves up tempting appetizer
08/03/00: Republicans now 'nice,' media still nasty
08/01/00: Presidential campaign could use some anti-metric mania
07/27/00: Government shouldn't subsidize Reform Party
07/25/00: Campaign finance 'reform' gives too much power to liberal media
07/20/00: Hillary slur speaks volumes
07/18/00: AlGore's McCarthyism
07/11/00: 'Survivor' shows hypocrisy of animal rights groups
07/05/00: McDonald's deserves a break today
07/03/00: On July Fourth, time to reflect on America's founding
06/28/00: America bashing becomes international pastime
06/23/00: If Fonda is sorry, let her say so
06/06/00: NAPSTER exposes artists' hypocrisy
04/18/00: Not much difference between TV journalists, TV actors

© 2000, TMS