Non-White Journalists Affected Most by Newspaper Cutbacks

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — As U.S. daily newspapers continued to encounter additional economic challenges in 2009, the losses of journalists of color outpaced overall newsroom job reductions, according to figures released April 12 by the American Society of News Editors at its annual conference here.

Hispanic Link reports that while persons of color make up a third of the U.S. population, they now comprise just 13.26 percent of newsroom inhabitants, the lowest percentage in half a dozen years. Now approaching 16 percent of the country’s population, Hispanics are just 4.4 percent of the overall total

In the past year, newsroom personnel employed by the daily press declined by about 11 percent, from 46,700 to 41,500. Among non-whites, it dropped 12.6%, from 6,300 to 5,500, down more than 25 percent from its peak of 7,400 in 2006.

During that period, dailies lost 175 Latino journalists, an 8.4 percent decline.

“This is, in a word, frustrating,” says O. Ricardo Pimentel, editorial page editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who is president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Diversity is a “strategic imperative,” he maintains. “We understand the complex factors that contributed to job losses across the board, but we also understand that, particularly in times of deep economic distress, diversity must remain a key strategic goal.”