Study: Diversity lacking in newspaper sports staffs

LAS VEGAS -- The staffs of newspaper sports sections are
dominated -- and usually headed -- by white men, according to a study
that shows women have yet to make big inroads in a traditionally
male field.

The survey of 305 newspapers of varying circulation also showed
sports sections lagging in employment of minorities, with blacks
holding 6.2 percent of jobs among an overall minority
representation of 12 percent.

Bigger newspapers tend to hire more women and minorities than
smaller papers, but study director Richard Lapchick said the
overall rate was dismal.

"Normally we assign a grade in these reports and this is the
first time we didn't do that,'' said Lapchick, director of the
Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of
Central Florida. "But in each one of those categories we would be
in the F category for people of color and female representation.''

Garry D. Howard, assistant managing editor/sports for the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said the results are discouraging and
show the industry has a long way to go to reflect the makeup of
both society and its readers.

"Obviously I think we've had a problem in our industry for some
time,'' Howard said. "We constantly point the camera at sports we
cover where everyone has a problem and we never take the camera and
point it at ourselves. I think this report has done just that.''

The survey showed that nine out of 10 sports editors were white
males, as were 84 percent of sports columnists.

Women made up 12.6 percent of sports staffs, in contrast to
another report earlier this year by the American Society of
Newspapers that showed women making up a total of 37.7 percent of
newsrooms overall.

"I was more surprised on how few women there were in all those
ranks, especially considering that 40 percent of participants in
athletics in high school and college are women,'' Lapchick said.

The survey covered more than 5,100 positions on sports staffs
and was part of a project for a class on the business of sports
media taught by John Cherwa, sports projects editor for the Orlando
Sentinel and sports coordinator for Tribune Co.

Cherwa said he would like the survey done every few years so
newspapers can chart progress.

"We didn't know how bad we were,'' Cherwa said. "We knew we
were bad, and now we know how bad we are. At least we've now got a
baseline, something we can move forward with.''

Howard, one of five black sports editors included in the survey,
said he was the only one he knew when the Milwaukee paper named him
to the post in 1994. Since then, he said, there has been some
progress, but not enough.

"People of color and women can hold these jobs and flourish in
these jobs,'' he said.

Lapchick, who has done similar surveys for pro sports leagues
and colleges, did the study at the request of the Associated Press
Sports Editors, a group of sports editors from around the country.
The results were presented Thursday to the APSE annual convention
in Las Vegas.

The fact the sports editors themselves asked for the survey,
Lapchick said, means they are serious about the issue.

"This is the first time that any organization has ever
requested a look at itself,'' Lapchick said. "I think that's an
incredibly healthy sign.''

Among newspapers surveyed, the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee had the
highest percentage of minorities among the largest papers at 54
percent, while the Fresno (Calif.) Bee was tops among size "B''
newspapers at 45 percent. The Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat was
highest in the "C'' circulation category at 36 percent, while the
Laredo (Texas) Morning Times was best among the smallest papers
with minorities occupied all five of its staff slots.

The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Sun-Sentinel sports staff was 24
percent women, the highest of the big newspapers, while the
Columbia (S.C.) State was tops with 29.6 percent in the "B''
category. The Bucks County (Pa.) Courier Times led size "C'' with
29.4 percent, while the Iowa City Press-Citizen had 44 percent
women in the "D'' category.

The Southwest Region of the APSE had the best record for sports
editors who were people of color with 9.1 percent, while the
Northwest region had the most female sports editors at 11.8
percent. The Associated Press was included in the Northeast Region,
where 6 percent of sports editors were women and 4 percent were
minorities. The Mid-Atlantic Region reported the lowest percentage
of any region with only 2.4 percent of its sports editors
minorities and no women sports editors.