Friday, May 21, 2004
Newsroom diversity: The Knight Foundation has come out with its annual newsroom skin-color diversity report. The report for The San Diego Union-Tribune, my employer, can be found here.
The Union-Tribune doesn't score particularly well, according to the Knight requirements. In 2004, 16.9 percent of the newsroom staff was non-white, while 45.5 percent of the paper's circulation area was non-white.
Of course, this report says nothing about another important aspect of diversity -- ideological diversity. Frankly, there's probably even less of that.
One of the little things that I often find telling is the regular charity book sales that the paper has. The Union-Tribune gets hundreds of books each month to be reviewed in the Sunday Books section. They can't all be reviewed and there's no reason to store them forever, so they are offered to employees as a fund-raiser for local charities. Yesterday the paper held one of its regular sales.
The sale starts at 10 a.m., and many of the most popular authors get picked up early. I work the swing shift, so all of the reporters, editors and even the business-types in the building often take the best stuff before I even arrive for work.
So, the latest Stephen King novel is long gone by the time I arrive. Likewise, I've never seen any of the Bush-bashing books still sitting around when I come in 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours later. Joseph Wilson's new book -- gone. Richard Clarke's -- gone. John Dean -- gone. Ron Suskind -- nowhere to be found.
But conservative books are always still available. Yesterday I was able to pick up P.J. O'Rourke's latest "Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism," Michael Barone's "Hard America, Soft America," and Thomas McInerney and Paul Vallely's "Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror." I was even able to pick up the unfortunately titled "Terror and Liberalism," by Paul Berman, a writer for The New Republic. I suspect that most would assume from just looking at the title that it is liberal-bashing book (from Berman's resume, I strongly suspect this is wrong), and so it was passed over.
Several book sales ago, a somewhat liberal relative of mine (aka Mr. Wonderful) was interested in Ann Coulter's "Treason" because of all the controversy surrounding it -- but he didn't want to buy it an put any money in Coulter's pocket. I told him I would get it at the next day's book sale -- because I was sure no one else would buy that book.
I was right.
So, there is one minor advantage to being one of the few conservatives in an otherwise liberal newsroom -- cheap books.
Real diversity is more than skin deep.