Monday, July 21, 2008

RTNDA: More Minority TV News Managers

In what's become a mid-summer tradition for those of us concerned about diversity in the electronic news arena, RTNDA is out today with the latest snapshot of racial minorities in our nation's television and radio newsrooms.

The news looks pretty good-- 23.6 percent of local television news staffs are classified as "minority." That's up from just 21.5 percent in 2006.

Last year, African-Americans were the only racial group that saw an increase.

This year, the other racial minority groups showed progress with increases among Asian American, Native American and Hispanic Journalist in the electronic media.

The 2008 RTNDA/Hofstra University Annual Survey also showed the percentage of minority television news directors reached an all-time high of 15.5 percent, up from 10.9 percent in 2006.

This news is exemplified by several high-profile promotions for African-American news managers in major markets.

In Washington, DC, Camille Edwards, an African-American, was recently named VP/News at NBC owned-and-operated station, WRC-TV. She succeeds another African-American,
Vickie Burns (shown at the right), who moved to the nation's number-one Television Mrrket.

Burns is now Vice President of News & Content for WNBC as of March 2008. Burns leads the station's news initiatives and manages the distribution of that content across multiple platforms.

While I don't know either of these sisters. I have to give them props for making their way to top of the decision-making ladder in local news in their top-rated stations.

One African-American woman television manager I do know-- from a previous life as a news producer, Allison Hunter, has recently moved to the nation's number-two media market (from the number-three market, Chicago at WGN-TV) as the interim news director at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Individual accomplishments aside, these recent managerial appointments demonstrate that NBC-Universal (owner of WRC and WNBC) and Tribune (owner of KTLA and WGN) have a pipeline going -- where they are able to maintain diversity in their top level newsroom management.

This is NOT to say that all newsrooms should have minority news directors. But, when you look around the table at that morning meeting-- you should see a diversity of faces that reflects the diversity of those whose stories will be told in the stations' newscasts.

Today's release of the latest RTNDA data suggests great progress. But, there's still a lot more to make.

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