Diversity in US sports media still poor, says report07 March 2013

A new report from a highly respected sports diversity body has highlighted the lack of diversity of women and ethnic minorities in US sports media newsrooms.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida is at the forefront of analyzing progress in inclusive recruitment practices in the United States.

Best gauge of diversity in sport
TIDES series of annual ‘Diversity report card’ publications are influential and unlike anything seen in European sport.

The reports have become the best gauge of how well the sports industry is doing in embracing change and seeking to represent US society. The reports give an alphabetical mark, as one would in a school report, as a measure of progress made over the previous period.

The Institute recently published its biennial report card for the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE)group and found “dismally low” percentages of ethnic minorities and women in top-level positions in sports media.

Racial diversity better than gender
Newspapers and websites received a C+ for their racial diversity in recruitment practices and an F grade for gender hiring practices. The combined grade for 2012 was a D+.

The report commends broadcasting giant ESPN for its achievements in the diversity field, saying that without their figures the percentages of women and ethnic minorities would be even lower.

To illustrate the point, the 2012 report says that of the 12 ethnic minorities who are sports editors at “Circulation A” media outlets (the largest newspapers and dot-coms, with a circulation of 175,000 or more), four work for ESPN.

Of the 11 women who are sports editors at this circulation level, six work for ESPN.

ESPN leaders
The ESPN influence goes further; of the 52 men from ethnic minorities who are columnists at this circulation level, 37 work for ESPN. And of the 35 women who are columnists at this circulation level, 23 worked for ESPN.

The head of the Institute, Richard E. Lapchick, who is often referred to as the “social conscience of US sport’, introduced the report in the US Sports Business Daily by saying,

“We have a long way to go before women and people of color are fairly represented in our major newspapers and dot-coms. As we wait for that day to come, I have to wonder how many great stories we’ve missed covering, how many we might have covered better and how many we would have had a completely different take on were things different.

“Recommend positive action”
He continued, “In the meantime, I give credit to the APSE, which is the only organization that has ever asked us to hold its feet to the fire by publishing a racial and gender report card on it.

“My primary recommendation to the APSE remains that it adopt a rule, similar to the Rooney Rule in the NFL, that would call for a diverse pool of candidates for each opening of these key positions. I would call it the Ralph Wiley Rule after the late writer. That may be the push that is imperative.”