Stelter Calls for ‘Diversity in Media,’ But Not Conservative Thinkers

On Friday’s edition of Reliable Sources Daily on CNN+, Brian Stelter wanted to talk about the “subject that affects every other subject: diversity in media.” But what he meant by “diversity” didn’t immediately include a diversity of ideology or thought, to include more conservative-minded people in the newsroom, but rather it was about a race and alleged racial disparity in newsroom pay and opportunity.

“Diversifying newsrooms is a process that does not stop. We are better off when there are more voices from all backgrounds helping make the news. But newsrooms have struggled to get to where they need to be. It’s been a problem for years across the United States,” he lamented.

For his first point, Stelter cited numbers from The Washington Post Newspaper Guild that said “the median salaries for white men in the newsroom is $124,000. For black women, 24 percent less; that’s $95,000.”

While the point was to suggest The Post was being racist in how it pays black women, he hamstrung his argument by later admitting that they’re trying “to hire more people of color but the paper’s having trouble keeping them, retaining them.”

So, it appears Stelter missed the probable reason behind the disparity: people aren’t staying long enough to get substantial pay raises and they’re leaving while still getting a new hire’s salary.

But that didn’t stop Candour CEO Ruchika Tulshyan from making it about racism and “intersectionality”:

Firstly, obviously salary and equity; huge issue we’re just hearing about. When you take an intersectional approach, for black women salaries are 24 percent less than white men. Right? In terms of roles. Huge issue already.

She also critiqued the general financial plight of average and noted that when you “enter the industry” it’s with “unpaid internships” (not at the Media Research Center). “When you even think about how you enter the industry, are anyway already paid really low wages. Unless you make it right to those superstar roles” or you use “your personal network is a way to get in,” she said.

What’s ironic is that’s exactly how Stelter managed to score a gig at The New York Times right out of college.

Tulshyan also griped about having to do what most need to when pitching stories: “having to justify why certain stories need to exist…”

“Pragmatically, what is the cost of having newsrooms that lack a more representative set of voices,” Stelter asked her.

Of course, Tulshyan’s response about how democracy was at stake(!):

Well, there’s the larger – the biggest cost – I cannot overstate this – it is an erosion of our democracy if we cannot have representative voices covering our bigger stories. And I think that’s one of the reasons why the media has failed to in so many ways as we think about, you know, elections. Every election cycle we have, you know, these big surprises and for a lot of people of color, they’re not big surprises. You know what I mean?

“So there is that. I mean, the erosion of democracy is – I cannot overstate – I know it sounds like I might be alarmist or something, but I’m not it truly is an issueshe added.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

CNN+’s Reliable Sources Daily
April 15, 2022
11:09:08 am Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: Now, to a subject that affects every other subject: diversity in media. Diversifying newsrooms is a process that does not stop. We are better off when there are more voices from all backgrounds helping make the news. But newsrooms have struggled to get to where they need to be. It’s been a problem for years across the United States.

And this week The Washington Post Newspaper Guild writes, quote, “a truth that’s indisputable: The Washington Post operates with systems that create and perpetuate inequalities.”

New data this week from the guild shows the median salaries for white men in the newsroom is $124,000. For black women, 24 percent less; that’s $95,000.

(…)

11:10:05 am Eastern

STELTER: This is a snapshot into one of the biggest newsrooms in the US and how must it still has to do. The guild says The Post does seem to be making a real effort to hire more people of color but the paper’s having trouble keeping them, retaining them. Why is that and what does that say about newsrooms making progress on diversity?

RUCHIKA TULSHYAN (CEO, Candour): Yeah. So Brian, actually, I think it’s an issue across every aspect of the life cycle of hiring and retention. Right? Firstly, obviously salary and equity; huge issue we’re just hearing about. When you take an intersectional approach, for black women salaries are 24 percent less than white men. Right? In terms of roles. Huge issue already.

When you even think about how you enter the industry, are anyway already paid really low wages. Unless you make it right to those superstar roles. You get in through unpaid internships. Your personal network is a way to get in. I’m a former business journalist, so I know this game really well, unfortunately. So, there’s that.

And just the challenge and trauma of covering stories from around communities of color.

I met so many crimes. I remember when I was in the newsroom having to justify why certain stories need to exist or why that a story that was covered that went out, you know, by one of our white peers had bias or stereotypes in them and how harmful that is. Making that sort of constant – reminding folks, you know, we’re here and this is why we need to do better.

Of course, as terrorism, the two sides things of issues around racism, trauma; these sort of issues. So, I mean, I could go on.

STELTER: And I want you to. Let me put some more of the data on screen. This show gender and racial pay gaps at The Washington Post. Black men making more than white women in the newsroom but the sample only had 29 black men and 207 white women.

For its part The Post said it’s committed to paying employees fairly and it’s put new systems into place to diversify. But you know, that graphic on-screen is remarkable that you have such a different data – you know so many disparities that take years to address.

Pragmatically what is the cost of having newsrooms that lack a more representative set of voices?

TULSHYAN: Well, there’s the larger – the biggest cost – I cannot overstate this – it is an erosion of our democracy if we cannot have representative voices covering our bigger stories. And I think that’s one of the reasons why the media has failed to in so many ways as we think about, you know, elections. Every election cycle we have, you know, these big surprises and for a lot of people of color, they’re not big surprises. You know what I mean?

So there is that. I mean, the erosion of democracy is – I cannot overstate – I know it sounds like I might be alarmist or something, but I’m not it truly is an issue.

(…)

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