Survey finds slight decline in diversity of TV and radio workforces

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An annual survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association found level growth in the number of people of color working in television and a slight decline in radio station newsrooms.

The RTDNA/Hofstra University survey contacted 1,688 TV stations and 3,704 radio stations, both commercial and noncommercial. It yielded responses from 1,281 TV stations and from 316 radio g.m.’s or news directors representing 868 stations.

The survey found that the television workforce was made up of 22.4 percent people of color, up slightly from 22.2 percent in last year’s survey. On the radio side, representation dropped from 13 percent in 2014 to 9.8 percent. There were no Asian-American news directors, and no people of color as news directors in markets of 50,000 people and fewer.

In addition, “after four years of growth, the percentage of minority news directors in radio plunged by the biggest one-year fall I can remember: six and a half points,” wrote Bob Papper, professor emeritus at Hofstra University.

Women made up 42 percent of the television workforce and 39 percent of the radio workforce. One out of five news director positions at radio stations was held by a woman, compared to 31 percent of television news director positions. People of color held 5 percent of radio news director positions and 12.5 percent of TV news director positions.

Public media showed mixed results in the survey. Public stations were twice as likely to have women as news directors than their commercial counterparts. But people of color were no more prevalent in news director jobs at public stations than commercial ones, unlike in previous surveys.