This is another piece in a series, “Hey, anyone notice the press is guilty of every single sin for which it crucifies the Republican Party and conservatives?”
When the first black president of the United States walked into the White House press room to talk about Trayvon Martin and the complexities of race in America last Friday, the people poised to convey his remarks to the world were overwhelmingly of one race — white.
At a time when one of the most contentious subjects in Washington is immigration reform — an issue of great import to many Hispanics — the people questioning the president on a regular basis are unlikely to be Hispanic themselves.
But does that matter?
The mainstream news media have always been disproportionately populated by white journalists. According to the American Society of News Editors annual survey, 12.4 percent of 38,000 newspaper journalists were racial minorities in 2012. The figure for TV journalists was 21.5 percent, and for radio was 11.7 percent, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association. These figures haven’t changed much even as the nation’s minority population has increased to about 37 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau says. Among the small but influential subset of reporters who cover the White House — arguably the most prestigious beat in American journalism — the numbers are roughly the same.
Of the 53 correspondents who regularly report from the White House, seven are African American or Asian American, according to head counts by a dozen White House correspondents, journalism organizations and other sources (figures on other minorities aren’t available). “There are just so few,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a Towson University political scientist who has kept detailed tallies on participants in White House news conferences for decades.
Racial and ethnic diversity is prized above all, here, with no mention of socioeconomic, educational, or ideological diversity, which would also bring plenty of new perspectives into the room. There is an African-American man in the White House press corps who often gets a question in, as he’s employed by one of the major cable news networks. That man is Wendell Goler of Fox News. I wonder if those who complain about a lack of diversity in the corps find his contributions worthy or dismiss him because of his employer. He goes unmentioned in this article, while April Ryan is highlighted for questions that often hew closely to specific concerns of the black community.
The pool is also overwhelmingly male. It’s a good thing they’re almost all devoted liberals or else this might be considered an actual problem.