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White-Out — Sports Media and the Lack of Ethnic Diversity

Posted by RichieZ23 on December 1, 2010

I’d say there is a layer of white-out across the sports media.  It’s just I’m not sure if there is even a layer of ink underneath it.  It’s blindingly white.

According to the 2008 APSE-Report Card, there is a serious lack of ethnic diversity in the sports media.

Findings of the report card show that on average, whites account for 89.4 percent of the following job titles in sports media — sports editors, assistant sports editors, columnists, reporters, and  copy editors.

For a sporting world in America that is largely made up of African Americans, how can there be such little ethnic diversity in the jobs that cover these athletes?  Are we in the sports media not giving non-whites a fair chance?  I do not believe that to be the case.  While America is far from perfect regarding race relations, there has been progress made.  While it might be a small factor, there is little reason to believe that  racial discrimination is largely responsible for such a disparity between whites and non-whites in sports journalism.

Are non-whites just simply choosing to pursue other avenues in life besides those in sports media?  Quite possibly.  But why wouldn’t they want to be involved with the sports that are made up of their fellow race?  I don’t know.  I do not have an answer for that, as I am a white male.  But something just isn’t adding up here

Jason Whitlock, an African American sports journalist is one of the best in his craft.   Michael Wilbon is another African American who is one of the better sports journalists out there today.  Aren’t non-white kids and teenagers seeing this and wanting to be like Mike off the court, if they can’t be like Mike on the court?

Michael Wilbon, an Afican American sports journalist, is one of the more popular sports journalists in America. There should be more.

After all, if a large percentage of athletes in the United States are non-white, wouldn’t non-white reporters, editors, and others in the sports media world share a common bond?  This is not to suggest that race plays a factor in the quality of one’s work.  Far from it.  However, it is also realistic to admit that athletes would relate better to Stuart Scott than they would Skip Bayless.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume Scott and Bayless are equal in what they do as a sports journalist.  Wouldn’t Scott be better at relating to the player and asking better questions, thus hopefully getting better answers from the person being interviewed?  As previously stated, this is assuming that all other factors are equal in the perfect world — which rarely happens.  Being white or non-white obviously does not make you a good or bad sports journalist.  There are too many other factors.

But still.  Wouldn’t having a more diverse base of sports journalists both indirectly and directly improve the product due to the personal relationship phase of sports journalism?

Yes and yes.

An increase in ethnic diversity is needed to both potentially increase the quality of modern day sports journalism, and to also give non-whites opportunities in sports journalism.

It may be still a predominately white business, but at least there can be some color in it as well.


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