The leadership in journalism’s top jobs is growing more diverse
6 min read

The leadership in journalism’s top jobs is growing more diverse

A small but heartening sign that newsrooms are making good on their promises to change.
The leadership in journalism’s top jobs is growing more diverse

A song to read by: "Slipped Disc," by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

What I’m reading: "Real Life," by Brandon Taylor

Diversity at the top

Midway through this month, I wrote a list article for Adweek that chronicled all the women who had been hired as editors-in-chief at top publishers in 2021. I wanted to write the list primarily because I had seen a slew of heartening appointments across the industry, and it felt like the kind of trend that, on an individual level, might not be so surprising, but taken together felt important.

When I published the piece, I made a note in the copy that it was a working list, and that I would be happy to add other names that I had overlooked. Since then, four other publishers have contacted me, asking for their new editor-in-chief to join the ranks of her peers.

On Monday, Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab published a similar article, though his focused specifically on the 20 biggest daily newspapers in the country. He had observed a similar trend, taken a different angle and found a parallel result: 12 of the top 20 dailies in the country were run by women, people of color or both. (One position was vacant.)

Benton’s article more fully fleshed out a component of my list that I had alluded to, but not outright mentioned, which was its racial composition.

I have to add the three of the four new names to my Adweek list (one site fell below the traffic threshold we recently established to more quantitatively define “top newsrooms,” but I will include it here), but once I do so, the racial breakdown looks pretty encouraging.

In total, in my soon-to-be-updated Adweek list, of the 17 women hired as editor-in-chief at a major publisher in 2021, nine are Black, five are journalists of color and the other three are white.

Combined with Benton’s list, after accounting for the three redundant names (Sally Buzbee, Katrice Hardy and Maria Reeve) and one vacancy (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) that leaves: 33 total editors-in-chief, composed of 21 women and 12 men.

Of the 21 women, the breakdown goes: nine Black, six white, three Latina, two Indian and one Asian.

Of the 12 men, the breakdown goes: seven white, three Latino and two Black.

Obviously these numbers do not reflect the racial composition of journalism leadership across the country; they are just two similar lists of editors-in-chief that have been combined, not a methodically compiled compendium that offers the final word on the diversity of journalism. Benton also mentions some other important qualifiers, such as the fact that larger publishers are statistically more likely to hire diverse leadership.

Plus, it should be noted that hiring a non-white or non-male editor-in-chief does not ensure that they are a good leader, kind person or progressively valued individual. Race alone colors only a portion of a person’s worldview, and issues of class, physical ability and sexuality are also critical factors in shaping how someone evaluates the world.

But, the hires do signal that some of the largest publishers in the country have made good on at least a part of their promise to diversify their newsrooms. While the victory might be small and riddled with relevant asterisks, I think it is worth noting nonetheless.

Below are the two lists, joined together with a note demarcating the two. Here’s to hoping this trend continues. (Both are listed in alphabetical order.)

The Adweek List

  1. Name: Danielle Belton

Publication: HuffPost

Start date: April 12

2. Name: Marielle Bobo

Publication: EBONY

Start date: April 28

3. Name: Sally Buzbee (She is on both lists, but will only be included here)

Publication: The Washington Post

Start date: June 1

4. Name: Thatiana Diaz

Publication: Remezcla

Start date: June 11

5. Name: Vanessa De Luca

Publication: The Root

Start date: April 19

6. Name: Leah Finnegan

Publication: Gawker

Start date: April 12

7. Name: Alessandra Galloni

Publication: Reuters

Start date: April 19

8. Name: Katrice Hardy (She is on both lists, but will only be included here)

Publication: Dallas Morning News

Start date: August 1

9. Name: Patricia Hernandez

Publication: Kotaku

Start date: June 2

10. Name: Raina Kelley

Publication: The Undefeated

Start date: May 3

11. Name: Mary Margaret

Publication: Entertainment Weekly

Start date: April 12

12. Name: Geraldine Moriba

Publication: The Grio

Start date: June 2

13. Name: Maria Reeve (She is on both lists, but will only be included here)

Publication: Houston Chronicle

Start date: July 19

14. Name: Swati Sharma

Publication: Vox

Start date: February 16

15. Name: Versha Sharma

Publication: Teen Vogue

Start date: May 24

16. Name: Leta Shy

Publication: Self

Start date: May 10

17. Name: Lindsay Peoples Wagner

Publication: The Cut

Start date: January 4

The Nieman Lab List

  1. Name: Dean Baquet

Publication: The New York Times

2. Name: Nicole Carroll

Publication: USA Today

3. Name: Lee Ann Colacioppo

Publication: The Denver Post

4. Name: Gabriel Escobar

Publication: The Philadelphia Inquirer

5. Name: Michele Matassa Flores

Publication: The Seattle Times

6. Name: Emilio Garcia-Ruiz

Publication: The San Francisco Chronicle

7. Name: Deborah Henley

Publication: Newsday

8. Name: Mark Katches

Publication: The Tampa Bay Times

9. Name: Brian McGrory

Publication: The Boston Globe

10. Name: Colin McMahon

Publication: The Chicago Tribune

11. Name: Kevin Merida

Publication: The Los Angeles Times

12. Name: Matt Murray

Publication: The Wall Street Journal

13. Name: Keith Poole

Publication: The New York Post

14. Name: Rene Sanchez

Publication: (Minneapolis) Star Tribune

15. Name: Kevin Whitmer

Publication: The (Newark) Star-Ledger

16. Name: Robert York

Publication: New York Daily News

17. Name: Vacant

Publication: Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Some good readin'

— I have been busy at Adweek! Here is a piece about The New Yorker, and here is one about Architectural Digest. (Adweek)

— This is a must-read if you want to understand the rapidly shifting state of play amongst the digital media giants. (New York Times)

— This newsletter from the woman who does socials for Mel Magazine, called Yes I Was High, which is absolutely hilarious and also beautifully written. (YIWH)

— If you haven't read this true story about a German social experiment that placed foster children with pedophile caretakers ... it will unhinge you. (New Yorker)

— I was waiting for Alicia Kennedy to write about the Anthony Bourdain movie, and she did not disappoint! (From the Desk of AK)

— Finally, Gannett has sold 26 local newspapers back to buyers from the community. If this works out well, it will be good! (Poynter)

Cover image: "Black Untitled," by Willem de Kooning