When Was The Change Made?: I’m just curious

If you didn’t read me say it elsewhere, I don’t and haven’t watched TV for about ten years, and that includes news.  Nearly all the news I get is text, either in print or online.  It’s only over the six months that I’ve watched a lot more corporate media news from the US, and there’s one very noticeable difference between NBC and any other media (including MSNBC).

For years (decades, really) I can recall Black people saying, “The only time you see Black commentators and Black opinion on TV is when they’re discussing Black issues.”  That was true regardless of whether it was health care, wealth and poverty, crime rates and prisons, music and culture, or anything else.  If it wasn’t about Black people, you only saw white faces – and even when it was about Black people, you still sometimes only saw white faces.

Noticeably, however, NBC (via the youtube channel videos I’m watching) has a large number of Black commentators about all topics – the economy, government, politics, war, COVID-19, etc.  They’re not segretated to only talking about “Black issues”, but about pretty well everything, and not just where it affects Black people.  When did this happen?  No, I’m not fawning over or praising NBC and it’s corporate “liberalism”.  That network is still a toady to TPTB.

However, this only seems to apply to Black people on NBC, nowhere else.  You might see an occasional big name Person of Colour doing news like Christiane Amanpour, but they are few and far between.  Asian people (of various ethnicities) generally only get to cover stories about Asia.

The Modern Newsroom Is Stuck Behind The Gender And Color Line

May 1, 2017

In many of today’s newsrooms, women and journalists of color remain a sliver of those producing and reporting stories. According to studies from the American Society of News Editors, the Women’s Media Center and the advocacy group VIDA, gender and ethnic diversity in newsrooms have hardly improved in the last decade despite increasing demand for more inclusive journalism in the current round-the-clock news cycle.

Nationally, Hispanic, black and Asian women make up less than 5 percent of newsroom personnel at traditional print and online news publications, according to 2016 data from the American Society of News Editors. The organization stopped requiring that news outlets reveal their identities in an attempt to increase participation in the yearly census. Numbers from 433 news organizations that participated in 2015 and 2016 show a 5.6 percent increase in the minority workforce, now at 17 percent at print and online news sites. But the numbers lag far behind demographic shifts in a country where nearly 40 percent of Americans are part of a minority group. Around the country, local newsrooms remain largely white by most measures. [**] (In the spirit of full disclosure, NPR’s latest diversity figures can be found here.)

In March, the Women’s Media Center released its annual report on gender representation in the media (print bylines, internet, broadcast and other outlets). The latest numbers show a tiny change — 37.7 percent of the news was credited to female journalists, according to an analysis of over 24,000 pieces of news content. Major national outlets continue to be dominated by men, and women actually lost representation in broadcast news television.

From the second link in the quoted article above [**]:

How newsrooms can stop being so white

December 19, 2016

On Sunday, the New York Times public editor Liz Spayd wrote a column that cut deep to the bone about the lack of racial and ethnic diversity and the “newsroom’s blinding whiteness.”
She described the team that covered the 2016 presidential election as having “less diversity than you’ll find in Donald Trump’s cabinet thus far,” and noted that, of the 20 reporters who covered the presidential campaign, just two were black. None were Asian or Latino. The six reporters assigned to cover the White House are also white.

At a time when so many people are questioning the validity of their media coverage, having people with a range of perspectives and backgrounds reporting the news is critical. The election of Donald Trump as president revealed just how deeply divided our country is when it comes to race and yet in the next few decades, people of color will become the majority of Americans. Still, very few feel adequately represented by the media.

Of course, workplace diversity isn’t just an issue in newsrooms. It’s something most every major industry — from Silicon Valley to Wall Street — struggles with.


  1. DonDueed says

    NBC, and in particular MSNBC, have been making a rather obvious attempt to become more diverse and inclusive. This began before the BLM movement but has accelerated since. One recent example is Joy Reid who now hosts the 7:00 hour (Eastern time) on MSNBC, but even the longer-tenured hosts have brought in more PoC as commenters and interviewees.

    It’s been a good change, IMO.