Home>Highlight>Gannett still struggling with newsroom diversity, disclosures show

Decommissioned Gannett newspaper vending machines. (Photo: Facebook.)

Gannett still struggling with newsroom diversity, disclosures show

By David Wildstein, July 31 2022 6:19 pm

A non-white resident of North Jersey has a better chance of representing Bergen and Passaic counties in the New Jersey Legislature than getting a job at The (Bergen) Record, according to a report of the racial makeup of their news employees released last week.

The Bergen Record newsroom has gone from 84.5% white in 2020 to 84.6% in 2022 and is now 1.1% Black, 3.1%  Asian and 6.6% Hispanic.  Leadership – editors, executives and managers — has climbed from 91.3% two years ago to 95% today.

While the newspaper did not include gender numbers, despite a claim that they had, a review of The Record’s masthead shows 61.4% of news staff are men.  That number increases to 62.8% when two women working as summer interns – one of them is a relative of a top Gannett executive — reduces the total number of employees to 86.

The report of those numbers came under a potentially deceptive headline: “Our commitment to diversity remains strong.”

Of the eight Legislative districts that include parts of Bergen and Passaic, 37.5% of lawmakers are non-white and 37.5% are women.

The lack of newsroom diversity was one of the reasons employees cited in their successful 2021 bid to unionize – a move The Record opposed.

“Neither our staff nor our stories adequately reflect the communities we serve,” employees of The Record, Daily Record and NJ Herald said when they launched their bid form a union.

Despite their own record, The Record sought to put a positive spin on their news, citing stories they’ve written about diversity issues.

“For The Record and NorthJersey.com to succeed, we must have an inclusive and diverse workplace where employees are valued and feel empowered,” said Dan Sforza, the executive editor.  “A diverse and inclusive workforce helps us better connect and serve you, our readers and our community partners.”

According to Sforza, The Record’s region is 48.6% white, 28.7% Hispanic, 13.9% Asian, and 7% Black.   He said 1.1% of his staff declined to fill out the optional race questionnaire.

The Asbury Park Press, which also released their diversity numbers, showing their newsroom to be 75.5% white—down from 78.7% in 2020 – with Black newsroom employees making up 10.2% of their workforce, lower than 14.9% in 2020.   Hispanics make up 4.1% of their newsroom, while the Asian count is 2%.

The Jersey Shore-based newspaper says that women represent 36.7% of their staff– an increase of 9 percentage points since 2020.  Women in leadership is up from 30% to 44%, and the percentage of white leaders has gone from 70% % to 55.6%.

Comments from their editor, Paul D’Ambrosio, replicated those made by Sforza.

For the Asbury Park Press and APP.com,” D’Ambrosio stated.  “A diverse and inclusive workforce helps us better connect and serve you, our readers and our community partners.”

That could be Gannett company line, since the same quotes were used in diversity stories in their newspapers in Des Moines, Austin,  Cincinnati, Phoenix and Gainesville.

Seven other Gannett-owned daily newspapers in New Jersey did not release data on their gender and race of their reporting and leadership teams.

In some cases, the sample size might be too small to survey.

The New Jersey Herald, an important source of local news until Gannett acquired them in 2019 and then decimated their staff, is down to just three staff writers: all white and two of them men, according to their masthead.

Once a vibrant local newspaper, the Burlington County Times is now down to just four members of their news team– including a Diversity and Inclusion reporter and a majority of women– and two more covering local sports.

Editor’s note: The New Jersey Globe has two reporters, both white men.  An earlier version of this story repeated the Bergen Record statistics in place of the Asbury Park Press.

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