Panelists discuss Kerner Commission 50 years later

Photos by Cheyenne Majeed, Howard University and Ryan Shank, Ball State University

Fifty years have passed since the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission, shook the news media with its declaration that “the journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training and promoting Negroes.”

Several African-American journalists who spoke at the 2017 ASNE-APME-APPM News Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. discussed how the news industry has incorporated the commission’s recommendations. Speakers said the media still have some of the same problems in covering issues like Black Lives Matter, and there is still more progress to be made.

The meeting preceded the announcement that the American Society of News Editors Foundation landed a $300,000 grant from the Democracy Foundation to create a more comprehensive and data-driven survey that catalogues newsroom diversity numbers for U.S. print and online publications.

ASNE launched the annual Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey in 1978, which measures the success of ASNE’s goal of having the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide equal to the percentage of minorities in the nation’s population by 2025. An ASNE press release stated that the Democracy Fund’s grant will allow ASNE, in collaboration with Google, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a university research team, to develop the survey into a world-class resource to support newsroom diversity efforts.

Grant funds will help invigorate the survey’s design and data collection methodologies, establish a comprehensive view of the state of diversity in media and raise awareness through the dissemination of data collected.

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