Asian Americans Post Slight Gains in Numbers working in Television News

Posted by AC Team on Thursday, 06 July 2006.

Latest report shows more Asian Americans are working in television news, but the numbers still do not reflect the Asian American population in the U.S.


MCLEAN, Va. - UNITY: Journalists of Color is encouraged at the small growth in diversity in television stations but remains extremely concerned about the continuing erosion in the percentage of people of color in radio news.

The annual survey by the Radio and Television News Directors Association and Ball State University released July 6 showed that the percentage of people of color in America's radio newsrooms has plunged by nearly two thirds since 1998, when strict federal equal opportunity rules were scrapped. Local radio newsrooms reported just 6.4 percent of their workers are people of color, down from 16 percent eight years ago.

The news was a bit brighter in local television news, where the proportion of people of color rose one percentage point to 22.2 percent. The percentage of minority news directors in local television also increased, to 13.2 percent from 12 percent last year. Nationwide, the percentage of people of color in the U.S. population is 33.6 percent.

"Apparently, the nation's radio stations just don't get it," said UNITY President Mae Cheng. "As our country grows more diverse, so should the staffs which bring Americans their news. While diversity increased slightly in local television, these numbers show the broadcast industry still has a long way to go before it reflects the diversity of its consumers."

It is imperative that news organizations staffing levels mirror their communities, said Mike Kellogg, President of the Native American Journalists Association. This way of conducting business is the right thing to do and good for business. The survey highlights what is an on-going problem, Native Americans are dismissed from any sort of meaningful dialogue. Drive a Cherokee, OK; hire a Cherokee, well

We are concerned that the glass ceiling is becoming even more difficult to crack for Latinos, said Rafael Olmeda, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The immigration protests that took place across the country in recent months demonstrated how out of touch many English-language media companies were with the Latino community. The lack of Latinos in decision-making positions continues to remain a major reason why this disconnect exists.

Olmeda added, "The decline of Latinos working in radio is further discouraging because radio remains a vital medium for the Latino community as witnessed by recent protests."

While it is good to see steady improvement in minorities overall, the industry still has a ways to go to reach parity, said Bryan Monroe, UNITY Vice President and President of the National Association of Black Journalists. However, the decline in the percentage of blacks in television news is disturbing.

For Asian Americans in television news, this year's figures reverse a three-year decline. Esther Wu, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, said that while she was pleased to see that the survey showed an increase of Asian Americans in television news, the numbers still do not reflect the Asian American population in this country. "As journalists, we have a responsibility to reflect the communities that we serve. The latest census shows that this country's population is increasingly becoming more diverse. Until our newsrooms reflect that growing diversity, we risk our stories not being told and our voices not being heard."

About UNITY: Journalists of Color
UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. is a strategic alliance advocating news coverage about people of color, and aggressively challenging its organizations at all levels to reflect the nations diversity. UNITY, representing more than 10,000 journalists of color, is comprised of four national associations: Asian American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association.

In addition to planning the largest regular gathering of journalists in the nation, UNITY develops programs and institutional relationships that promote its mission. For more information on UNITY, visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (703) 854-3585.