RG-J stands out
Gannett Corporation, the chain that owns the Reno Gazette-Journal, continues to place first among newspaper companies in diversifying workplaces, and the Gazette-Journal itself has a better record than the company’s USA Today.

Those were among the findings of a study by the Knight Foundation. It was done to show a year-by-year comparison of daily newspapers, something the industry’s standard index of diversity by the American Society of Newspaper Editors doesn’t provide.

However, even the Knight index could not show a year-by-year comparison of individual corporations’ records, so it isn’t known whether Gannett’s trend is headed up or down.

Industry-wide, the trend is down. The study says that the journalism industry’s effort to diversify its workforce has long since peaked and begun slipping back.

“Among the 200 largest newspapers, 73 percent employ fewer non-whites, as a share of the newsroom jobs, than they did in some earlier year from 1990 to 2004,” the study reports. “Only 27 percent of these large dailies were at their peak as 2005 began. Looking more broadly at all newspapers, only 18 percent were at their peak, while 44 percent have slipped. And those are the papers that employ any non-whites at all. The remaining 37 percent of daily newspapers that divulged their employment figures reported an all-white newsroom.” (Figures for the study were provided by the newspapers themselves.)

On the Gannett record, the study says, “Ownership is a large factor in determining a newspaper’s newsroom diversity. Gannett Co. continues to be the leader, measured by a Newsroom Diversity Index, which compares the share of jobs held by journalists of color with the non-white share of the population in the newspaper’s circulation area. Gannett’s index is 89 (100 equals parity with the circulation area).”

However, ownership was not enough to give Gannett’s most visible newspaper a high rating. “The nation’s six largest newspapers have fallen from their peak: Gannett, the company with the best overall record on diversity, has seen non-white employment at its flagship USA Today slide steadily since 1994 (employment at year-end 1993).”

The same was not true of the Gazette-Journal, which continues to develop an increasingly diverse workforce.

“This newspaper’s Newsroom Diversity Index is 71,” the report says. “Compare that with 50, which is the median Diversity Index for all newspapers reporting in this circulation category of 50,001 to 100,000 daily sales. In that group, this newspaper’s Diversity Index ranks 27 out of 90 newspapers reporting.”

The Gazette-Journal’s newsroom workforce is 19.7 percent non-white, according to the study. That’s equal to the newspaper’s highest previous year of 1997. (USA Today’s figure is 17.6 percent.)

Among other Nevada daily newspapers, few reported figures regularly enough for reliable judgments to be made. The Las Vegas Sun came closest, reporting on 13 of the last 16 years and showing that it peaked in 2002 with 9.7 percent of its newsroom non-white. By this year it was down to 7.4 percent.

Of daily newspapers nationally, the report said, “Among the 200 largest newspapers, 73 percent employ fewer non-whites, as a share of the newsroom jobs, than they did in some earlier year from 1990 to 2004.” Besides USA Today, such national newspapers as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have declined as minority employers.

The Knight report can be read at powerreporting.com/knight/.

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...