Diversity lacking in sports journalism

It’s the second year for bad news when it comes to the diversity of newspaper sports departments.  According to Editor & Publisher, a survey from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) has found an overwhelming majority of white males behind this country’s sports pages.

“This report shows that in 2008, 94% of the sports editors; 89% of the assistant sports editors; 88% of our columnists; 87% of our reporters; and 89% of our copy editors/designers are white, and those same positions are 94%, 90%, 94%, 91%, and 84% male,” wrote Richard Lapchick, director of TIDES, which is housed at the University of Central Florida.

This is the second year for the study which noted one bright spot – an increase in African-American sports columnists who now make up 10.7% of the field (up from 7.4%).

According to the article, some sports editors blame newspaper downsizing for the problem saying the dot-coms are hiring away women and minorities and then the newspapers are not allowed to fill those open positions. 

If that were the case, wouldn’t it stand to reason that sports departments would have been just filled with women and people of color 10-15 years ago, when sports Web sites were far from a major player and the economics of newspapers were much brighter?

I think there may be quite another reason why sports departments are a nearly all white male club and that probably won’t change as long as the old excuses are allowed to go unchallenged.


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