RTDNA: Local News Diversity at Record Levels

(Image credit: Chandler Claire Dewgard / Syracuse University)

WASHINGTON—For the fifth year in a row, representation of people of color in local TV news improved, hitting a record 27.4% of the local news workforce, marking a dramatic improvement from 16.5% in 1995, the RTDNA reports 

But the survey, which is the fifth and final installment of the 2021 RTDNA/Newhouse School of Syracuse University Survey, also found that there is a notable gap in representation between the overall U.S. population and the local TV workforce, with TV news less diverse by about 12.2%. 

In fact, the gap has increased since 1990, when the overall population was less diverse. That year, people of color in the overall workforce was 25.9% and people of color represented 17.8% of the TV news workforce, a gap of 8.1%. 

Today, people of color represent 39.9% overall and 27.7% in TV news, producing a gap of 12.2%.

The survey found that stations in top 25 markets are the most representative, but that there has been improvements in smaller markets. Stations in the Midwest were the least diverse, followed by the Northeast, while stations in the South and West were most representative. 

For the first time in more than 25 years, all local TV newsrooms had women on the news teams but their proportion fell from 44.7% last year to 43.9%, reflecting the troubling impact of COVID-19 on women in the workforce. 

Overall, African Americans represented 12.3% of the local news workforce, followed by Hispanics (12.2%), Asian Americans (2.8%) and Native Americans (0.4%).

In terms of management, about 79.9% of news directors were white, followed by African Americans (6.5%), Latinos (10.3%), Asian Americans (2.7%) and Native Americans (0.8%). That represented a record high for people of color as news directors, though the representation gap remains large. 

People of color also hit record levels as general managers (9.8%), though this is way below their proportion of the overall workforce (39.9%.)

For the complete report visit the RTDNA.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.