"Race and the Media" Survey Reveals New Challenges
In a recent survey of journalists of color conducted by The Loop 21 and UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., most respondents do not believe that mainstream media is effectively covering racial issues. The "Race & the Media" survey was commissioned by The Loop 21 for members of UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. -- a strategic alliance advocating fair and accurate news coverage about people of color -- to evaluate the attitudes of journalists of color regarding their experiences in mainstream media during one of the most significant presidential campaigns in American history.
Overall, survey respondents show cautious optimism that the "Obama Effect" will result in better coverage of racial issues in U.S. newsrooms. Although many felt the election coverage opened doors for a fair and balanced discussion of race, an overwhelming 92% of those surveyed believed the mainstream media was still not effectively covering race relations in a multiracial society. Of that majority, 45% attributed the cause to a lack of diversity in newsrooms and 33% attributed it to a lack of understanding by editors/producers.
"The Loop 21 believes it is vital to understand how journalists of color feel racial issues were covered during the 2008 presidential campaign and how we can improve, and affect how issues of race can best be covered in the future," commented Darrell Williams, publisher of theloop21.com. "As we strive to create a more equal society, especially in light of the historic election of Barack Obama, it is crucial to begin a dialogue on race relations, and examine how the media can cover issues in a way that addresses the needs of a growing and diverse American public."
While the majority of respondents (81%) were optimistic that Obama's election will enhance the coverage of racial and cultural issues in mainstream media, their enthusiasm is tempered by diminished expectations for their own career mobility. More than 60% of respondents "strongly/somewhat disagree" that people of color and women will be promoted to senior positions in the wake of the 2008 presidential campaign, demonstrating that historical practices of race and gender inequality remain entrenched.
"The respondents' lack of confidence in mainstream media's knowledge of race relations highlights the need for more journalists of color in newsroom leadership positions," said UNITY President Rafael Olmeda. "It is imperative that this survey serve as a wake up call to mainstream media -- the status quo must change and parity must be reached in America's newsrooms."