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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   December 1998  issue

Diversity Delayed   

ASNE's new mission statement commits to making newsrooms more diverse.

By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

The American Society of Newspaper Editors reinforces its commitment to making the nation's newsrooms more diverse. A new mission statement challenges papers to "reflect the racial diversity of American society by 2025 or sooner," stipulating that every staff should include "journalists of color" and mirror its community's population. This mission supersedes a 1978 ASNE goal calling on newspapers to reach racial parity by 2000, a goal it won't come close to reaching. A 1998 ASNE newsroom census puts minority employment in professional roles at 11.46 percent, while in the total U.S. population, minorities represent 26 percent. ASNE also decided to add women to its annual census, which has measured employment of Asian Americans, blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics, though the "concern regarding women is focused on management and the glass ceiling," according to ASNE President Edward Seaton, editor in chief of Kansas' Manhattan Mercury. The National Association of Black Journalists released a statement praising ASNE's action, but criticizing the organization's "lack of urgency" in setting such a faraway goal. "Parity by 2025 becomes somebody else's problem," the statement says. The Society of Professional Journalists responded similarly, issuing a resolution at its national convention urging ASNE to speed things up.