Diversity Projects

The Cronkite School focuses heavily on journalism diversity throughout its curriculum and in its professional programs, but the emphasis on diversity is particularly pronounced when it comes to applied research.

In recent years, faculty members, supported by student researchers, have conducted a number of major research projects that have contributed substantially to the understanding of diversity and its importance in newsrooms.

The projects include:

Diversity Database
The Cronkite School created the UNITY/McCormick Foundation Electronic Clearinghouse for News Diversity Research for UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. The searchable database, unveiled at the UNITY convention in Chicago in the summer of 2008, categorizes and catalogues more than 400 articles, books, reports and other research that focus on news diversity issues. The easily searchable online database is available online at http://cronkite.asu.edu/unity.

UNITY President Karen Lincoln Michel said the clearinghouse is as an important step in making certain that information about news diversity is readily available to a wide audience. “Until now, information about news diversity has been scattered and easily overlooked,” Michel said. “This clearinghouse, with its critical data and important lessons, will help us make better decisions as an industry. We aren’t going to be able to say: ‘We didn’t know’.”

The project, led by Steve Doig, the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Cronkite School, was supported by a generous grant from the McCormick Foundation of Chicago, a national leader in news diversity issues.

Washington Diversity Study
An in-depth study of ethnic diversity in the Washington press corps in 2008 showed that only about 13 percent of the Washington daily newspaper press corps is made up of journalists of color.

The study, done in cooperation with UNITY, concluded that there were slightly more journalists of color covering the nation’s capital in 2008 than there were four years earlier when UNITY conducted its first census of the racial makeup of the Washington press corps. But progress has been much slower than UNITY officials had hoped. They said improvement is needed not just in overall numbers, but in the number of minority journalists in leadership positions and in the diversification of all news operations — big and small.

The study was led by Cronkite Associate Dean Kristin Gilger and was made possible by a grant from the McCormick Foundation of Chicago.

The study was released at UNITY 2008, the world’s largest gathering of journalists of color, held in the summer of 2008 in Chicago. The convention is the signature event of UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. — an alliance representing the combined 7,000 members of the Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

Latino Magazine Study
The Cronkite School, on behalf of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, conducted 2006 research on how Latinos are depicted in the nation’s major news magazines.

The study found that coverage of Latinos is sorely lacking in U.S. news magazines. Out of 1,547 total stories published in 2005 by these three magazines, only 18 stories (1.2 percent) were predominantly about Latinos. The stories most often focused on the topic of immigration, often portraying Latino immigrants as a negative and disruptive force in U.S. society.

The report, conducted by Dina Gavrilos, former assistant professor at the Cronkite School, examined coverage of Latinos by Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report during 2005. NAHJ released the results during its 2006 annual convention in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

NAHJ commissioned the report because it sought to produce a companion to its annual research report on television network news coverage of Latinos (Network Brownout Report). NAHJ selected ASU’s Cronkite School to conduct the study after a nationwide search for a research team.

Knight Newsroom Diversity Research
Knight Chair and Cronkite Professor Doig conducts the nation’s leading research comparing ethnic diversity in the nation’s newsrooms to the diversity in the communities those news organizations are covering.

Doig teams up with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman to produce the in-depth look at racial diversity in the newsrooms of U.S. daily newspapers. The project, started in 2002 and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, uses computer-assisted reporting techniques to compare newsroom demographics to Census Bureau data in each newspaper's circulation area. The study also charts the progress made by individual newspapers.

Doig and Dedman, who are among the world's leaders in computer-assisted reporting techniques, also produce a Web page for all 1,400 daily newspapers analyzed.

The last report, released in 2005, showed that newsroom diversity was below its peak levels at most daily newspapers in the U.S., including three-fourths of the largest papers. The research looked at newsroom employment from 1990 to 2005.

The next study will use 2010 census data to re-assess how well newsroom staffs reflect the diversity in their communities and which newspapers have made progress or fallen behind in their diversity efforts.

Asian American Journalists Study
The Cronkite School, on behalf of the Asian American Journalists Association, conducted a 2007 study of attitudes of Asian American journalists.

The study, led by Doig, found that most members of the association have positive feelings about the work they do, but they worry that media consolidation and newsroom cutbacks will weaken the profession’s commitment to diversity.

The AAJA-commissioned study, “Love and Fear in the Time of Media Consolidation: A Survey of Asian American Journalists,” was a Focus Project survey underwritten by the World Journal newspaper. It was released at the AAJA 2007 national convention in Miami.

“This study proves something we’ve long suspected,” said Jam Sardar, AAJA national vice president for broadcast and a correspondent with the Comcast Network. “We’re dedicated to giving people information they need to know about our communities, our cultures and our world. But the opportunity to perform this important public service is at risk. That’s why it’s incumbent upon everyone, particularly media owners and executives, to renew their commitment to diversity in this ever-changing corporate landscape.”