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Old March 8th, 2006 #1
biocultural Realpolitik
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: ZooSA
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Default NYT's Divershitty Report

N.Y. Times' Needs Diversity Improvements, Study Finds

By Joe Strupp

Published: March 02, 2006 2:02 PM ET

NEW YORK A 10-month internal study by The New York Times has determined it is "a newspaper at risk" when it comes to diversity, according to the New York Observer, which reportedly obtained a copy of the 39-page report by the paper's Diversity Council issued yesterday. The findings, made available to staffers, also claim the paper is "losing ground in comparison to businesses that are among the leaders in diversity."

"The council, a 23-member group including newsroom and business employees, was founded in 2004 in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal," the Observer reported. It quoted the report as saying that the "Jayson Blair debacle continues to haunt the Times and continues to affect diversity efforts, according to dozens of interviews with employees."

Times officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment from E&P, but the Observer's report included a statement from Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. which read, "I am very proud of the work done by the Diversity Council. Our business environment requires that we continue to push ourselves to become more diverse because our audiences are changing. We must change along with them and systematically hire and promote from a wider segment of the population."

The report adds that no evidence indicates Blair's string of plagiarism and fabricated stories, which resulted in his 2003 dismissal and the resignations of two former top editors, were linked to the diversity efforts then in place at the Times. But it adds that the perception of such a link continues.

"[In] the minds of many, however, Mr. Blair remains an example of newspaper diversity run amok," the report says, according to the Observer. "Many in the newsroom said they believed the Blair case had a lasting, deleterious effect on the way minority reporters and editors were viewed, both inside and outside the newsroom."

The Observer reports that the study found the Times newsroom is currently 82.5% [jewish], slightly less than the industry average of 86.5%. Only 14% of newsroom managers are minorities, the council reportedly found, and there are currently no minorities on the newspaper masthead and only one nonwhite person on the company's executive committee.

"[W]omen and minorities remain underrepresented at the Times and minorities are seriously underrepresented in its managerial ranks," the report says.

The study also cites related news judgment concerns, questioning the decision to run an Aug. 9, 2005 obituary of Ebony magazine's John Johnson inside the paper: "Some African-Americans believed Mr. Johnson's obituary deserved front-page placement and saw the fact that it wasn't played there as a case of white editors failing to recognize his cultural significance," according to the report.

The report issued eight recommendations aimed at increasing diversity. Among those ideas, a plea that upper management "starting with the publisher, chief executive officer and executive editor, must do more to lead by example." The council did not seek a quota system, the Observer reports, but recommended that each hire be reviewed by the recruiting committee "with an eye to diversity concerns." Other recommendations included creating a senior vice president for diversity position, adding bonuses tied to diversity improvement, and developing a mentoring and career-development program.


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