Voices that must be heard: Our media, our lives

Voices That Must Be Heard, the journal of the New York Community Media Alliance, has a great editorial on the state of Black Journalism. Drawing a line from Freedom’s Journal—the first African American owned and operated newspaper in the United States (1827-1829)—“We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.” the editorial lays it out:

Today in 2009, there are many who say that they represent America, but what America do they represent? They show America as they see it. They show America through the lens of white America.

Whether in print or on TV, the lens is through the eyes of white editors and producers. They see our communities as the media has seen them historically, not as the actually are. If we look at newsrooms across the country, especially print, the numbers we were so optimistic about in the late 1990s have turned around. According to the American Society of News Editors, “American daily newspapers shed 5,900 newsroom jobs last year, reducing their employment of journalists by 11.3 percent to the levels of the early 1980s.”

The report continued, “Of the journalists who departed newsrooms, 854 were minorities, according to ASNE’s 2009 census. The overall year-over-year drop left 46,700 journalists, including 6,300 minority professionals, on newspaper staffs at the end of December 2008. The number of minority journalists stands at the level reported in the 1998 census.”

The American Society of News Editors report on newsroom diversity can be found here.


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