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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition
Low Power Radio: Lost Opportunity or Success on the Dial? April 2009.

Participation in Employment by Minorities and Women

Minorities and women — historically under-represented in the radio and television workforce — have lost ground in the period of rapid media consolidation over the past decade. The Radio and Television News Directors conduct a regular survey of participation in employment by women and people of color in broadcast news. The most recent survey was released early in 2008. It found that employment by women and people of color in radio is very low generally, and extremely low for news directors.6

Radio News Workforce Participation:
Minorities and Women
2008 2007 2006 2005 2000 1995
Caucasian 88.2% 93.8% 93.6% 92.1% 90.0% 85.3%
African-American 7.8% 3.3% 2.5% 0.7% 5.0% 5.7%
Hispanic 3.6% 0.7% 1.9% 6.0% 3.0% 7.5%
Asian-American 0.4% 1.1% 1.8% 0.7% 1.0% 0.6%
Native American 0% 1.1% 0.2% 0.5% 1.0% 1.0%
Total People of Color 11.8% 6.2% 6.4% 7.9% 10.0% 14.8%

Radio News Workforce Directors:
Minorities and Women
2008 2007 2006 2005 2000 1995
Caucasian 94.1% 88.0% 95.6% 89.0% 94.0% 91.4%
African-American 1.7% 4.4% 1.9% 0.0% 3.0% 5.4%
Hispanic 3.4% 3.8% 1.3% 8.8% 2.0% 2.4%
Asian-American 0.8% 1.9% 0.6% 0% 0% 0%
Native American 0.8% 1.9% 0.6% 2.2% 1.0% 0.8%
Total People of Color 5.9% 12.0% 4.4% 11.0% 6.0% 8.6%

If racial and ethnic minorities, women, older Americans, and persons with disabilities are not employed in news operations at all levels of management, there are few who can speak with authority about their condition in the community. This means less, or less complete, coverage of issues that are important to them — issues like economic inclusion, the struggle for quality public education, immigration reform, and hate crime prevention. And if local people are not involved in the management of local news operations, issues important to local communities can be ignored.

The civil rights community cares about media ownership because the way the public looks at issues — indeed, whether the public is even aware of issues like fair housing or voter discrimination — is directly related to the way these issues are covered by the media. The way the media covers issues is directly related to which reporters and producers and anchors are actually employed by the media. Who is employed by the media is directly related to who owns the media. And who owns the media is directly related to policies that determine who gets a federal license to operate and who does not.

Next Section: Radio Consolidation and Homogenization


6. Bob Papper, The Face of the Workforce, RTNDA Communicator (July/August 2008).

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