The results are in from an AAN Diversity Committee survey on the demographic makeup of alt-weekly newsrooms.
The survey—written by the Diversity Committee, with the bulk of the work done by Kathleen Richards, co-editor of the East Bay Express—was conducted via SurveyMonkey between October 2011 and February 2012. Of 130 member publications, 49 responded, or 38 percent of AAN members.
As a whole, the survey shows that AAN members are doing well with diversity when it comes to women and the LGBT community, both in terms of hiring and coverage.
However, the results indicate that AAN members have a definite problem when it comes to hiring and retaining people of color. Respondents reported that only 14 percent of employees are people of color. Most respondents recognized a diversity issue here, especially when it comes to diversifying staff, and many publications expressed concerns about finding qualified, diverse applicants, and having the resources in terms of time and money to find and keep diverse applicants.
Most respondents recognize the value and importance of diversity, saying that diversity rated an average of 7 on a scale of 10 in terms of importance.
Many respondents had great ideas on things AAN can do to help in diversity efforts: Actively share websites and other resources papers can use to find qualified minority candidates; Develop relationships with colleges and universities with numerous minority students; and conduct training on how to hire better.
A number of respondents suggested things the association already does—such as offer diversity project/intern scholarships, for example—a sign that AAN should do more education on its existing offerings. Others mentioned things AAN just recently started doing: A best-practices list; Diversity scholarships to AAN conventions and training.
The survey results were compiled and analyzed by Jimmy Boegle, editor of the Tucson Weekly and AAN’s Diversity Chair.
Boegle will lead a discussion of the survey results and diversity best practices document during a session on Friday, June 8 at 10:30am at AAN’s Annual Convention in Detroit.