thumbnail of The First Amendment; Minorities in the Media: Recruiting and Training
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
I guess generally what I can say about the institute is that it exists. It's a nonprofit tax exempt corporation it exists for one purpose and one purpose alone and that is to help desegregate the newspaper industry in this country. And we can talk more about the specifics on an individual basis or during the question period. With this background and knowing that we've been involved for at least 10 years well close to 10 years in the minority hiring and recruiting field. What can we say about the state of minority hiring in this profession and I'm talking now again about the newspaper profession. Well first the good news there is reason for optimism as coordinator of job net. I have found that promising capable capable minority journalists from entry level to executive level are in demand. And it is our particularly hungry for professionals with editing background or potential but reporters are also being sought. Situation has greatly improved in the last two years for a number of reasons.
As most of you know the first great spurt of interest in nonwhite journalists happened during the riots or the urban riots of the 60s and in 1968 the Kerner Commission severely scolded the newspaper industry for being grossly negligent in its minority hiring policies and found it partly culpable for the outburst of anger in the urban ghettos. Well that 60 spurt prompted by the Kerner Commission report by the fact that newspapers were fine they didn't have anybody go into the ghettos and find out what was what this conflagration was all about. He helped launch the careers of some of the great minority journalists in the industry today. It began to decline peter out in the early 70s not coincidentally with the decline of the inner city uprisings when the when the pressure was off the pressure to hire began to diminish. The 70s slump began to turn around with the 10th anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report in one thousand nine hundred eight. It refocused attention and perhaps
some guilt around the issue of minority hiring in newspapers. The momentum of the last couple of years was enhanced by an authoritative national survey performed by Jay Harris of Northwestern McGill School of Journalism at the request of the American Society of Newspaper Editors that surveys show that after a decade of effort. Only four of every 100 NEWSROOM professionals were not white in the in the in the industry. Moreover less than 1 percent of those in policymaking positions was a minority. And the coup de gras was that fully two thirds of the nation's daily newspapers employ no minority professionals at all. Not a pretty picture. It prompted the American Society of Newspaper Editors working closely with Jay Harris and Robert Maynard along with other members of the Institute for Journalism Education to endorse unanimously the goal of complete NEWSROOM desegregation by the year 2000. If not sooner. Followed by a similar resolution by the Association for
education in journalism directly or indirectly the events of the Kerner anniversary year seem to have stimulated a new consciousness among the more responsible elements of our business. A case in point was in 1978 when the summer program was recruiting newspapers to hire its entry level graduates. It took about 100 phone calls to line up 15 jobs a year later it took only 24 calls to get 20 jobs. So things were getting better. The other thing is that newspapers are increasingly sensitive to pressure which comes from various sources. It's not all altruism you can count on that. A listing of those pressures would include the widely read articles such as the piece by Nick Kotz in the Columbia Journalism Review about minority hiring and promotion and coverage in newspapers internal pressures including ego sea suits and lawsuits from staff members. Two of the most prominent cases of The New York are at the New York Times and The Associated Press. Government pressure particularly affecting newspapers
and newspaper groups acquiring broadcast properties. The FCC requires such organizations to demonstrate affirmative action in all of its properties before receiving purchase approval. Thus the OSS Angeles Times for example made an aggressive search for minority reporters at the time had applications pending for several broadcast acquisitions. And the L.A. Times the place where as recently as early this year in a city with nearly 20 percent black Latino population less than 5 percent of the NEWSROOM professionals were not white. Now emphasizing the role played by pressure is not to denigrate industry efforts prompted by goodwill and a sense of moral rightness. A number of news organizations pursue NEWSROOM integration with an aggressiveness that exceeds self-interest alone. The good net group for example conducts an affirmative action policy that includes bonuses for executives who improve the minority picture in their newsrooms. Other papers through corporate policy of the zeal and individual editor are in the forefront of the effort. Too often
however where there is good will and the desire to do better it exists in an atmosphere of passive receptivity rather than a great aggressive action. Many newspapers welcome over the transom applicants but expend little energy time or money to recruit interview and train minority applicants. It is this group receptive but without the wherewithal or will to become active in the effort that job net hopes to target most directly. Which brings us to the bad news. There still exists all too generally in this industry the predisposition to view minority staffers as psychologically and professionally under qualified to assume responsibility in the news business. This refers both to reporting and editing positions. Not so long ago a group of minority journalists preparing to be copy editors toured one of America's major newspapers. At one point they stopped to visit with the paper's managing editor the editor in a rush of candor confided to the visitors that it just wasn't all that easy finding minorities to fill policy level jobs
on his newspaper quote. We had one fellow in sports who was being considered for the job of sports editor he said well you know that some of the other editors had serious doubts not about this fellow's ability mind you but whether he was psychologically suited for the job the way they looked at it. He had enough problems of being black let alone being the one black in charge of a department full of whites. The postscript is the black sports staff I did not get the job. Interestingly the managing editor told a story with a detached bemused meant as if it had happened on somebody else's paper not the one over which he was the boss. He was well-meaning and in fact considers himself a liberal. Obviously he lacked either the courage or commitment all the power to overrule his editor subordinates and you can chalk that up to the politics of the NEWSROOM. It's one of the existing problems. Now the point is that scholarships for minority students are down drastically in journalism by 54 percent in cash terms since the early 70s which may account for the drop off in the rate of increase of minority students in
general. Less than 5 percent of journalism undergraduates were black in 1978 and that was only a decimal increase over the year before. Despite the less than cheerful statistics the experience of job net has left me highly optimistic. I have been impressed with the quality of applicants from entry level on up. They are at minimum competent and frequently very impressive. Similarly I'm encouraged by the response of the newspaper industry. Editors are beginning to take advantage of the access to a national roster of talent the job that offers applicants in turn are excited by the prospect of targeting their applications directly to newspapers that indicated they specifically are looking for minorities. I feel a job that has the potential to make a quantum leap in the minority hiring field. And there you have it the pluses and the minuses. Things are not as bleak as they looked even half a dozen years ago. The fact we have come as far as we have suggests we could
go all the way. As Robert Maynard put it recently it is as if we were in the middle of a journey. We have passed the point of innocence when we could pretend this problem was not there or that it cannot be solved. Yet we have not reached the point of assurance that it will be done. We stand on the edge of change at a place just short of the knowledge that this problem of segregated newsrooms is sure to pass as a segregated lunch counter once passed. Thank you. The next person who will speak is Robert Baron who is professor of journalism. Boston University School of Public communication has also written narrated co-produced and moderated special programming for WGBH TV in Boston PBS and commercial television in Massachusetts. He has assured me that he will take no more than 10 minutes. I. Will do my very best and in the rather challenging subject that we are dealing with here today reads if I may repeat it.
Seeking new professionals recruiting and training minorities for the mass media. The key phrase here I believe is for the mass media. Because that's where the dilemma begins to take root. As you know there are three major problems that confront minority Americans one seeking to make communications their field. One a reasonable chance to be hired to once hired the opportunity to be considered a serious lay for upward mobility action. And 3 the chance to fail. Clearly this triumvirate rests first of all on the first step that of being hired. Without that point of departure nothing else has meaning for the large majority of minority Americans this is a point fashioned by the blade of frustration because simply but tragically put the educational preconditioning of most minorities is inadequate it vast
and inexcusable for most inexcusable on the part of what we should expect from society and our educational system of course. But the subject we are discussing here this problem becomes even more pressing and disabling. Because the mass media as we well know demand that those individuals functioning within it not only have fear but special skills to express themselves with clarity and excellence in writing and orally within the framework of a deadline pressure period. It takes considerable training. A foundation that must be built from the earliest point in the schooling process. All are there must be adequate remedies thereafter. This is where the frustration and programming for failure begin for so often the schools where minority Americans live. Many cases have to live do not build a foundation of grammar usage an articulate
presentation essential to the process of affective and acceptable communication in our mass media. When school systems in our neighborhoods especially in what we call sometimes ghetto neighborhoods treat their students as though skill and talent belong to others than it is the others who have the advantage. The job and the promotions and the chance to fail. The wonder is that some of our minority Americans make it at all that some of them survive and overcome the cruel handicap of a second class pre-college education with some too rare exception. The result of such an imbalance of educational delivery is kept minority Americans out of this field of the mass media with its special requirements and the absence of minority faces and by Aline's the scarcity of minority persons in media mass media management and decision making positions merely
feed the racists and other detractors with the kind of misinformation that they even find attractive when I'm trying to emphasize is that this is no simple binomial theorem wherein one can merely make recommendations at the top of the ladder namely the job getting area and assume that one has in fact arrived at a solution. We cannot solve this massive stalemate. That's what it is. Merely by an application of some cash and some energy and a lot of philosophy. The recruiting and the training of minority Americans as for any other citizens begins as I say in fact at the very beginnings of the educational process. Having recognized that there is no beginning there for so many which they are not at all responsible. What then. First let's understand that the media giants including And the higher educational institutions have failed to
confront this issue. This crisis that's what it is a crisis. We have failed to confront it effectively firmly and relentlessly. That's the kind of commitment we need if we are to give a significant number of Americans that reasonable chance to be hired. The opportunity to know what upward mobility means for themselves and the chance to fail. A number of the media leaders have for some time made that fortune top 500 listings and can have no acceptable acceptable excuse for abusing or ignoring or playing charades with this problem area dealing with it so often in tokenistic fashion establishing an occasional program here and there without adequate long range funding or serious pre-planning that is essential if one is to do more than print brochures that have the sound of music only
typographical brochures that speak of programs that are quite a measure efforts constructed for mediocrity and failure. We need more than warm editorials and lukewarm alleged interned ships that lead to nowhere about the end of a column and the end of a time period. We are able to start discouragingly late but we must start without delay. You know that's an old phrase but it's very true. There will continue to be three key problems that confront minority American men and women seeking to make the mass media their profession. That reasonable chance to be hired once hired the opportunity to be considered seriously for upward mobility action and a chance to fail or to succeed. Thank you. Thank you. I'd like to present. Dwight Ellis who is director of the department of minority
and special services for the National Association of Broadcasters one of the most critical challenges facing the broadcast industry today and in the future as a matter of fact is recognizing the developmental value of its workers and also devising a plan to establish a brain trust of industry wide talent covering a broad spectrum of job categories. With the advent of new technological changes in the industry and I'm talking about such things as increased availability of broadcast facilities to here for non privileged classes Manning Government and Public Interest a tax on the business practices of broadcast practitioners and greater demands for diversity and accountability in media programming. It is clear that those who hold and dictate power in the mass media must seek new methods of utilizing the human resources of their industry. While it is an accepted fact that the business of broadcasting is
competitive difficult and dynamic there is strong evidence to support a belief that optimum use of existing human resources in the industry is lacking. Compound in a state of the art is the fact that minorities and women both under represented classes and broadcasting experience many untold problems related to entry as well as survival. Once they get into the business. Broadcasting is a young lucrative industry in flux. Using the establishment of its commercial trade association as a parameter broadcasting has existed as a near unified industry for less than 60 years. The industry revenue for one thousand seventy six was seven point two billion dollars two billion dollars of that was for radio and five point two billion for television. To give you some idea the radio advertising beer on the television beer of advertising respectively predicts a 10 percent increase in radio revenues and a 12 percent increase in television revenues for
979 television described by TV be president. That's the television board. Roger Rice describes that business television as the only mass medium left. Quote this particular medium television is projected to produce some 21 billion dollars in sales billions in 1905. Now tell me that that's not lucrative. The Federal Communications Commission a 978 described the entire industry commercial as well as noncommercial as consisting of nine thousand six hundred thirty broadcast stations eight thousand six hundred thirty eight radios and nine hundred and ninety two television stations remarkably broadcast employs fewer persons and might be expected in 1978. One hundred sixty four thousand seven twenty six full and part time persons were employed.
Minorities were fourteen point three percent. That's about twenty three thousand five hundred of this particular total. The Department of Health Education and Welfare has as many employees as broadcasting does today. General Motors employs five times as many and the Teamsters Union employs 12 times as many. Because of the constant turnover endemic to the industry it is probably more reliable to examine full time broadcast employment and to that in 1978 the industry employed one hundred thirty seven thousand full time persons. Minorities comprise thirteen point eight percent. We're talking about roughly 900000 now percentage breakouts of this minority figure indicate the following. Blacks eight point two percent Hispanic 4.1 percent Native American point six percent in Oriental point nine percent. In the face of recent criticisms made against the industry
concerning unacceptable recruitment and advancement of minorities efforts are being expended by many broadcasters as well as independent groups. And you should know about them as the trade association of the commercial industry in AB has operated an employment clearinghouse for years and I mentioned earlier. And what we do is we for minorities and women to broadcast we're seeking job applicants a 978 one hundred twenty minorities obtain positions through the service which includes counseling. There are also regional broadcast skills banks throughout the United States and they are sponsored by broadcasters such as the Baltimore skills bank which is sponsored by stations in that city as well as the National Urban League or the local Urban League. There are three skills banks in Florida one sponsored by a store Broadcasting Company one sponsored by WTVG TV in Miami and another sponsored by W. TVT in Tampa and the Bay
Area bracket skills bank in San Francisco which is sponsored by broadcasters in that area. There's also a new recruitment effort that's been started by the Sacramento Valley Broadcasters Association. While these efforts a very commendable broadcasters continue to express inability to locate qualified and qualifiable personnel and the networks and some broadcast groups claim a dearth of management talent among minority populations despite their special management training programs aimed at resolving the problem. Can compound any issues related to minority employment is a factor. Communication schools across the country are graduating two hundred thousand to 400000 students per year. Who are aggressively seeking entry into the level of the business and any level for that matter. One result of this phenomenon is a widening buyer's market for talent and a gradual dropping of salary ceilings as a supplier broadcast
personnel's personnel continues to outstrip the demand. Needless to say minorities suffer most even as regarding entry level positions and already applicants expect and usually require higher salaries than their counterparts. The experience of an ABS employment clearing house is a non-minority job applicants are willing to go anywhere at any price for experience. Both stood by precedents established by their racial peers that imply higher probabilities for later advancement through higher market placements and salary advancements. Minorities on the other hand. The wondrous thing in the rules of the game in broadcasting regarding mobility and risk have too few precedents to follow. In addition many of cause to worry about where they will reside and what racial climate awaits them when contemplating a move to a small town market. In short minorities do in fact
have special considerations to weigh when entering the broadcasting world of work. Do you perspective minorities seeking careers in broadcasting can realistically aspire to positions such as network news correspondent or anchor network news bureau chief General Manager of radio television station sales manager or broadcast engineer especially chief significant reasons are the lack of industry related experience insufficient models to follow and ignorance of where successful professional minority personnel are working. An argument could be made that the responsibility for identifying role models and opportunities rests with aspiring minorities. However an irrefutable fact is that hundreds of experienced broadcasters will admit ignorance of where marketable pools of minority talent exist for their purposes. While it is necessary to continue educating counseling and placing new talent in the broadcast industry from the ranks of
minorities it is also imperative that methods be explored and mechanisms established to preserve existing broadcast talent who happen to be minorities. It is not enough that the industry can illustrate examples of progress in minority employment by reference to gains in visible broadcast positions such as television news reporters radio announcers and the like. With good reason broadcaster is fortunate enough to have good employees who happen to be minorities covet the identities of these persons and generally minority employees rarely have time nor sometimes the inclination to make themselves known. But when the time comes for minority and a particular broadcast entity to part ways many broadcasters are faced with the dilemma of finding another to fill the position. Since known minority personnel with good experience and credentials are a rare commodity. The infamous revolving door of broadcasting fails to serve its purpose.
If the minority loss to one station is gained by another at least the industry continues to benefit and is well on the way preparing this person for higher responsibility equally as important a resource person is being developed for the recruitment of other minorities. Consequently the industry benefits again by grooming a role model for others to follow and many allies in the Great War. Conversely insensitive and inequitable treatment of a minority employee may not harm a particular station when the employee is discharged. But the industry bears the loss first by the loss of a prospective or present management employee who may retreat to another industry altogether. And second by creating enemies of the industry whose negative feelings resulting from such treatment may come back to haunt the industry. History has shown that many great
leaders and rebellions against the system were once members and supporters of the system. The broadcast industry like all other profit making industries cannot afford to deplete its brain trust the workers and supporters at the expense of strengthening its detractors. Broadcasters like other industries must live with the fact of attrition both good and outstanding employees regardless of race or sex are prone to voluntary defections to other industries for better salaries or conditions. While there is no suggestion intended here that broadcasters should exercise any methods of thwarting the progress or advancement of minorities in their employ rewarding precedents could be set by the development of sophisticated programmes for recapturing certain minority employees lost their industries the gains resulting from such programs will be measured by the development and maintenance of a viable broadcasting brain trust of minority talent
The First Amendment
Minorities in the Media: Recruiting and Training
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-171vhrw2).
"The First Amendment is a weekly talk show hosted by Dr. Bernard Rubin, the director of the Institute for Democratic Communication at Boston University. Each episode features a conversation that examines civil liberties in the media in the 1970s. "
Talk Show
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Production Unit: Radio
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 80-0165-04-24-001 (WGBH Item ID)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:27:48
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The First Amendment; Minorities in the Media: Recruiting and Training,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 21, 2019,
MLA: “The First Amendment; Minorities in the Media: Recruiting and Training.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 21, 2019. <>.
APA: The First Amendment; Minorities in the Media: Recruiting and Training. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from