Date of Award

Fall 1997

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Thorn, William J.

Abstract

The irony in the 1968 U.S. Kerner Commission Report is that nearly 30 years later, the news media are still being urged, pushed, even prodded, to increase the number of racial minority journalists working in newsrooms across the country. Following ghetto riots in 1967, the commission specifically addressed the need for more "Negro" journalists for improved, more balanced news coverage. Today the call is not only for Blacks, but also for Hispanics, for Asians and for Native Americans and for journalists from other racial minority groups. Also, the call is coming not from a federal panel, but from individuals and groups of these minority journalists, who have grown enough in number to form their own organizations on national and local levels. Moreover, the call is coming not just from them. It is coming from some industry leaders and from media critics, among others. In any case, the call is still coming. Also, with the changing face of the newsroom, there is a new level of concern: Though the numbers have increased over the years, there seems to be a pattern of frequent departure of minority journalists from the very newsrooms where they have been sorely needed for their input and perspectives in a medium often lacking in diversity. Why do they depart? What could be done to improve the situation? It is crucial to solicit and examine answers on these issues because any improvement would be not only for the sake of racial minority journalists and the news media at large, but also for the sake of the general public that buys into the news product on a daily basis. For the news media are agenda setters and opinion shapers that must take care in the message they present.

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