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TV viewership declines, diversity stalls in newsrooms

Posted: Aug. 9, 2017 | Tags: Pew State of the Media



Revenue and audience trends for Hispanic- and black-oriented news outlets have mirrored closely the fluctuation of the industry overall, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

Pew’s latest and final “State of the News Media” report also found that the country’s two largest racial/ethnic groups continue to be vastly underrepresented in television newsrooms. The diversity report for TV news directors is even bleaker.

The share of black TV news staffers has hovered around 10 percent for the last two decades, Pew reported. The portion of TV news directors who are black is half that, even though African Americans account for 13 percent of the U.S. population. 

While the percentage of Hispanics in TV newsrooms has doubled since 1995 — up to nearly 9 percent today — it is still just about half of Hispanics’ share of the U.S. population.

A 2014 Pew report also noted the decline in the number of journalists of color working at U.S. daily newspapers. The number of black journalists working at dailies had dropped by 40 percent since 1997 — a decline steeper than that of white, Asian and Hispanic journalists, Pew noted.

This week’s report also honed in on the circulation of black-oriented newspapers, those circulated for free and those with paid subscriptions. Data were available for a dozen of these papers and, Pew found, circulation trends have varied in the last 10 years. The Michigan Chronicle remains the most widely circulated African-American newspaper, with about 22,000 paid subscribers. This number has remained relatively steady over the past decade, which bucks the industry-wide trend of a circulation nosedive. The St. Louis American, circulated for free, prints about 66,000 copies per week and is the largest weekly newspaper in Missouri. Its numbers have remained stable since 2012, the earliest year for which data are available.

The Pew report found even less data for Hispanic newspapers, but noted declining circulation of two major dailies, La Opinión and El Nuevo Herald, based in Los Angeles and Miami, respectively. 

On the TV side, millions tune in to Univision and Telemundo — two key news networks for Spanish speakers — but in 2016, viewership of both channels declined across almost every time slot, despite the industry-wide viewership bump often attributed to the U.S. presidential election.

This year, Pew changed the way it released its “State of the News Media” reports. Instead of the hundred-some-page reports it has issued in the past, the center released a series of fact sheets, sector-by-sector. The reports published Aug. 7, for public broadcasting, digital news, and Hispanic and African-American news media were the last in this series. The Workshop followed the release of the reports throughout the summer. These are archived on the Workshop’s website.

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