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Saturday, April 29, 2006

AAJA on need for Diversity in news rooms

AAJA Challenges Newspaper Editors To Set Personal Goals for Newsroom Diversity


Media Contact:Rene AstudilloAAJA Executive 346-2051 x106

SAN FRANCISCO (April 25, 2006) – The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) today challenged all of the nation’s newspaper editors to set a personal goal of increasing the number of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) journalists in their respective newsrooms, and to place more AAPI journalists in supervisory and management positions.

The call came in response to The American Society of Newspaper Editors' (ASNE) release of its annual newsroom census today, showing a slight increase in the number of Asian Americans – from 1,664 in 2005 to 1,768 in 2006. Asian Americans now comprise 3.22 %of the total newsroom workforce in the U.S. The number of Asian American newsroom supervisors also increased slightly from 271 in 2005 to 318 this year.

The survey is used as a benchmark for the industry in assessing the aggregate number of journalists of color working for papers. ASNE's diversity mission is for its member newsrooms to mirror the population and has set the goal of achieving parity with the general population by the year 2025 or earlier. While the overall minority employment numbers grew slightly, ASNE said that the “industry is falling further behind benchmark targets set six years ago. This year’s report card shows failure in all five benchmarks set by ASNE, namely: the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms, number of minority interns, number of minority supervisors, number of newspapers with no minority staffers and number of newspapers that have reached parity with their community. For detailed survey results, go to

“While we are happy about the slight increase in our numbers, we still have a long way to go to achieve parity,” said AAJA National President Esther Wu. “The situation becomes volatile with recent consolidations and sale of major newspapers. Opportunities for newsroom employment are shrinking and this could have a devastating impact on diversity hiring and reverse what very little progress we’ve made so far,” she added.

“The U.S. census indicates that the Asian Americans are the fastest growing race in the United States, and that by the year 2025, it is estimated that the majority population in at least four states will be made up of people of color. Now more than ever, it is important for us to look at the number of AAPIs and other journalists of color in the newsroom if we are to reflect the communities we serve,” Wu said.

For the first time since ASNE started conducting the annual census, the specific minority employment percentages at each newspaper participating in the survey, have also been released. “This is something that we have asked for several years ago and we commend ASNE for doing it this year, “said Rene Astudillo, AAJA executive director. “Now, we know exactly which newspapers need to increase their hiring of Asian Americans, or better still, which ones don’t employ a single Asian American in their newsrooms. Hopefully, with this information, AAJA can work closely and directly with newspaper editors to improve their hiring records. It is time that all newspaper editors make it their personal goal to hire more Asian Americans for their own newsrooms, while ensuring retention of their current Asian American staff,” he added.
AAJA, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has embarked on national programs designed to feed the newsroom pipeline with AAPIs and to develop the management skills of mid-career journalists.

J Camp, its annual multicultural journalism training for high school students has encouraged participants to consider a career in journalism. AAJA has also graduated more than 300 Asian Americans from its Executive Leadership Program, a unique and intensive training to develop the management skills of mid-career journalists. Many other AAJA programs help its members find professional opportunities in both newsroom training and employment.

About AAJA

The Asian American Journalists Association is a non-profit professional and educational organization with more than 2,000 members today. Founded in 1981, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. AAJA's mission is to encourage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to enter the ranks of journalism, to work for fair and accurate coverage of AAPIs, and to increase the number of AAPI journalists and news managers in the industry. AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists of Color, along with the Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and National Association of Black Journalists.

For more information, visit

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