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Chasing Newsroom Diversity

Chasing Newsroom Diversity: From Jim Crow to Affirmative Action

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Chasing Newsroom Diversity
    Book Description:

    In this book, Gwyneth Mellinger explores the complex history of the decades-long ASNE diversity initiative, which culminated in the failed Goal 2000 effort to match newsroom demographics with those of the U.S. population. Drawing upon exhaustive reviews of ASNE archival materials, Mellinger examines the democratic paradox through the lens of the ASNE, an elite organization that arguably did more than any other during the twentieth century to institutionalize professional standards in journalism and expand the concepts of government accountability and the free press. The ASNE would emerge in the 1970s as the leader in the newsroom integration movement, but its effort would be frustrated by structures of exclusion the organization had embedded into its own professional standards. Explaining why a project so promising failed so profoundly, Chasing Newsroom Diversity expands our understanding of the intransigence of institutional racism, gender discrimination, and homophobia within democracy.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09464-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Black and White of Newspapers
    (pp. 1-18)

    The daily newspaper editors who met in Washington, D.C., in April 1948 should not have been surprised when James O. Eastland, a U.S. senator from Mississippi, used their convention podium to defend the South’s social tradition and valorize its racial hierarchy. An outspoken segregationist, Eastland had been invited onto the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ convention program as counterpoint to the civil rights reforms proposed by President Harry S. Truman, who sought to integrate the military, outlaw the poll tax, mandate fair employment, and make lynching a federal crime. In stating his case, Eastland implicated his white audience—particularly editors...

  5. 1 Manning the Barricade: Maintaining the White Prerogative in the Face of Change, 1954–67
    (pp. 19-45)

    In 1957, members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors were invited to participate in a Civil War reenactment of sorts, a North-South tennis tournament to be played during the annual ASNE convention. The incoming ASNE president, Virginius Dabney, editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Grover C. Hall Jr., editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, issued the challenge. “It would give the Hall-Dabney Confederate … team exquisite pleasure to trounce the best combination the dam-yankees can put into the field,” Dabney wrote in the ASNE Bulletin, the organization’s newsletter.¹ Hall, who insisted “the Confederate Constitution was written in Montgomery, probably on...

  6. 2 Seeking Justice in a Climate of Irony: The Hiring Initiative’s Uneasy Prelude, 1968–76
    (pp. 46-73)

    During his career in journalism and academia, Norman Isaacs grew accustomed to playing the odd man out in professional controversies. A thoughtful, idealistic editor with a crusader’s distaste for ambiguity, Isaacs always began from the premise that the editor’s covenant required him to serve as a moral compass for his community. Dismayed by the widespread ethical failings of journalism, Isaacs tried unsuccessfully as ASNE president in 1969–70 to interest the organization in starting an ethics enforcement procedure. At the end of his term, Isaacs left the Louisville Courier-Journal and joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he took up...

  7. 3 “A Sensitive and Difficult Task”: Establishing a Framework for Newsroom Integration, 1977–89
    (pp. 74-106)

    On April 8, 1978, Richard Smyser, editor of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Oak Ridger, asked the American Society of Newspaper Editors to take responsibility for integrating the newsrooms of U.S. daily newspapers. The Minorities Committee, which Smyser chaired, proposed that the ASNE board lead an effort to raise, by the end of the century, the percentage of nonwhite journalists at daily papers to match the U.S. minority population, then the distance between 3.95 percent and 17 percent.¹ Moreover, to encourage nonwhite hiring, monitor progress, and hold editors accountable, Smyser’s committee wanted the ASNE to conduct an annual census of the...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. 4 The Gay Nineties: Reimagining and Renegotiating a Multicultural Newsroom
    (pp. 107-137)

    What began as a fairly routine report at the 1990 convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors ended with the iconoclastic revelation that a gay man was on the organization’s membership roll. Leroy Aarons had been out in the newsroom of the Oakland Tribune, where he was senior vice president for news, but until he took the podium that April day in Washington, D.C., he had remained inside the closet that constrained gay members of the ASNE.¹ Aarons was not, of course, the only gay editor among the 983 members of the ASNE; he was simply the only one...

  10. 5 Diversity in Crisis: ASNE’s Time of Reckoning, 1998–2002
    (pp. 138-166)

    Of the white editors who championed newsroom integration in the hiring initiative’s first decade, none could match Loren Ghiglione, a small-town editor from Southbridge, Massachusetts, for intensity of passion and devotion to the cause. Having spent Freedom Summer 1964 teaching in Mississippi, Ghiglione brought a commitment to civil rights when he joined the ASNE. Accordingly, Ghiglione threw himself into the Goal 2000 project as chair of the Minorities Committee from 1984 to 1986 and architect of many of the job fair and outreach efforts during the 1980s. In ASNE discussions about nonwhite hiring, Ghiglione’s was often the most insistent voice...

  11. AFTERWORD: Closing a Chapter of Newspaper History
    (pp. 167-178)

    When he returned from the 2005 ASNE convention, Greg Moore, editor of the Denver Post, hung an oil painting of an editor’s rolltop desk in his home.¹ Moore, a longtime newsroom diversity advocate and program chair of the 2005 convention, had attempted every day of the annual meeting to elicit silent auction bids for the artwork, which Denver artist Darrell Anderson had donated to ASNE’s diversity fund-raising effort. By the convention’s end, Moore, who had hoped to sell the painting for $3,000, had received not a single bid, even though the convention had been attended by representatives of the largest...

  12. APPENDIX A. Draft Statement on Newsroom Diversity
    (pp. 179-180)
  13. APPENDIX B. Mission Statement: Newsroom Diversity 2000
    (pp. 181-182)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 183-226)
  15. Index
    (pp. 227-236)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-243)