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Meta Carstarphen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Meta Carstarphen <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 17 Sep 2002 15:42:02 -0500
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Dear MAC friends;
The following is a copy of the Becker Report that Sharon
Bramlett-Solomon has asked all members to review.  Her contact info is
at the bottom of the report if you want to direct specific comments to
her, or this may be something the listserv membership may want to
comment on.-Meta

Sharon Bramlett-Solomon

Diversity in hiring: Supply is there. Is demand?


By Lee B. Becker
with George L. Daniels, Jisu Huh and Tudor Vlad
University of Georgia


1>Printer-friendly page

Editor's note: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>Lee B. Becker is a professor in
the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and director of
the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication
Training and Research at the University of Georgia. Tudor Vlad is
assistant director of the Cox Center, where George L. Daniels and Jisu
Huh are doctoral students and research assistants.
<>See details on the Annual
Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication.

It's a myth that there are not enough minority applicants to alter the
face of America's newsrooms.

The myth says journalism and mass communication programs across the
country are not graduating enough students to meet the demand. The myth
is wrong.

The myth says minority graduates are not interested in media careers.
That, too, is wrong.

The myth says minority graduates looking for media jobs have not had
internships or worked for the campus media or done other essential
things to make them ready for the job market. Wrong again.

If daily newspapers - as one example - had hired all the minorities who
graduated from journalism and mass communication programs and who sought
jobs in the daily newspaper industry in 2001, they would have added
2,529 minority journalists.

Based on the projections of the American Society of Newspaper Editors,
the nation's daily newspapers only hired 2,292 people for their
newsrooms in 2001, 19.5% of whom were minorities. Had all of those hired
been minorities - which was theoretically possible given the supply -
the newsroom workforce at the end of 2001 would have been 15.5%
minority, rather than 12.1%. That figure takes into consideration that
the newsrooms, according to ASNE, lost 443 minorities while hiring 447.

In fact, 2001 was not exceptional in terms of the characteristics of
journalism and mass communication graduates. While the nation's
journalism and mass communication programs significantly underrepresent
minorities and the minorities who do attend are overly concentrated at a
few institutions, the nation's journalism programs as a whole are
producing minority graduates in significant numbers to make a real

The inescapable conclusion from data we have gathered is that large
numbers of minorities graduate from journalism programs, large numbers
seek media jobs, and large numbers have the basic skills needed for
media jobs. The data come from our ongoing project on journalism
enrollments and the jobs journalism graduates seek and find when they

The problem is that many minority graduates do not get job offers, and
many of those who do get offers decide not to take them. For whatever
reasons - and there probably are many - the job market is not
functioning efficiently enough to produce the kind of diversity industry
leaders say they want and many - including us - feel is crucial if the
media in this country are to serve their communities and the larger

The picture is complex, as the example of the daily newspaper industry
illustrates. Not every opening is at the entry level. Not all applicants
have the skills required for every job.

The point is a simple one: The problem isn't supply, at least in gross
terms. The problem is that there is not a suitable link between supply
and demand.

The challenge is figuring out what to do about the problem.

Our data offer a few suggestions.

First, minority graduates are not evenly distributed at journalism
programs across the country. Our data show that African-American and
Hispanic graduates are concentrated in two distinct types of
institutions: those historically serving African-Americans and those
serving students of Hispanic origin.

In fact, 27.4% of the African-American journalism and mass communication
bachelor's degree recipients in academic year 2000-2001 completed their
studies at a Historically Black College or University. Some 4% more
completed their studies at a university affiliated with the Hispanic
Association of Colleges and Universities. These Hispanic-serving
institutions granted 31% of the degrees earned by Hispanic students that
academic year.

Employers who want to find minority students will have to develop very
close relationships with these institutions.

Second, employers have to worry about the minorities who don't enter the
newspaper industry. In 2001, only one in five of the minorities who
sought a job with a daily newspaper - again to pick one example -
actually took a job with a daily. Three in 10 took another media job.
One in five took a job outside the field of communication. And one in
five was unemployed six to eight months after graduation. Of those who
actually got an offer, only half took the daily newspaper job.

It's another myth that minorities have an easier time in the job market.

Despite efforts by media organizations to diversify their workforces,
despite the fact that racial and ethnic minorities continue to be
underrepresented among college journalism and mass communication
graduates, and despite the oft-held view that minority graduates have
advantages in the job market, journalism graduates who are members of
minority groups have more difficulty getting communication jobs - and
jobs in general - than do others.

Third, employers have to think creatively. Prospective employees may not
have all the skills needed for a specific job. The question is: Can the
potential employee be educated and trained for the position? If the
applicant has the basics and the interest, other things probably can

The Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University is an
attempt at such creativity. People of color with a commitment to
journalism but no training who are nominated by newspapers are getting a
crash course in the basics. They also get jobs at their nominating
newspapers when they graduate.

Investment in human capital is crucial. The industry has to be committed
to it.

For 15 years I've been directing the Annual Surveys of Journalism and
Mass Communication, now housed in the Cox International Center at the
Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of
Georgia. The project is funded by the Freedom Forum, the John S. and
James L. Knight Foundation, ASNE and a host of other media foundations
and organizations. We track enrollments in the nation's journalism
programs, and we monitor the activities of graduates of those programs.

In academic year 2001, our data show, the nation's 458 journalism and
mass communication programs granted bachelor's degrees to 8,839 and
master's degrees to 809 individuals classified as members of racial or
ethnic minority groups. These figures were obtained either directly from
the journalism programs or indirectly from reports filed by that
university with the federal government.

At the undergraduate level, the minority graduates were 23% of those who
earned degrees. To be truly reflective of the population, 31% of the
graduates would have had to have been members of minority groups. At the
master's level, 25% of the degrees were granted to minority students.

One-quarter of the bachelor's degree recipients classified as minorities
sought a job with a daily newspaper upon graduation. Fewer than one in
five of the white students did. Minority students also were at least as
likely to seek jobs at weeklies, with the wire services, in radio and
with broadcast and cable television. In fact, in all those cases, the
percentages were slightly higher for minority students, although the
differences were slight. Minority students are a bit less likely to seek
employment in advertising and public relations.

Master's degree recipients, who make up about 8% of the minority
journalism and mass communication graduates, looked for the same kinds
of jobs as their counterparts.

Of the minority bachelor's degree recipients, one in five had completed
a newspaper internship. The percentage was just a bit lower for
non-minority students. Only one in five of both groups had done no
internships while in college.

One-third of the graduates who were members of racial or ethnic
minorities had worked for the campus newspaper. The figure was just
slightly lower for the other graduates.

Minority graduates were more likely to have completed their studies in
print or broadcast journalism than were other graduates, and less likely
to have specialized in advertising and public relations.

Just under four in 10 of the journalism and mass communication
bachelor's degree recipients who looked for jobs with daily newspapers
actually got an offer, whether the applicant was a member of a racial or
ethnic minority or not. Minority graduates who sought jobs with weeklies
were less likely to get an offer than were those who were not members of
a minority group. The same was true in radio. Otherwise, race and
ethnicity were pretty much unrelated to receiving an offer. Clearly,
there is no evidence that race and ethnicity are associated with higher

In fact, the reverse is true when all types of employment are examined

Those journalism and mass communication bachelor's degree recipients who
were members of racial or ethnic minorities were less likely than other
graduates to have had a full-time job on Oct. 31, 2001 (when the survey
first was fielded), less likely to have had a job several months later
when they returned the questionnaire, and less likely to have a
full-time job in communication.

The gap in employment levels of graduates based on race and ethnicity
has persisted for most of the years I've conducted the survey of
journalism and mass communication graduates.

The persistence of this gap is one of the survey's most disappointing
and perplexing findings.

The myth says such a gap does not exist.
Sharon Bramlett-Solomon, Ph.D.
AEJMC Chair, Commission on the Status of Minorities
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ  85287-1305
Office:  480  965-3678    Fax: 480  965-7041
Email:  [log in to unmask]