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Report: Sports departments at newspapers, websites largely lacking in racial, gender diversity

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ORLANDO, Florida — The number of jobs held by people of color and women in sports departments at newspapers and websites remains low, with most jobs dominated by white males, according to a study released Wednesday.

The report by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports once again gave the more than 100 outlets that belong to the Associated Press Sports Editors a C-plus grade for racial hiring and its fourth consecutive failing grade for gender hires in jobs that include sports editor, columnist, reporter and copy editor.

The biennial report is the fifth on APSE since 2006.

Last year, 91.5 percent of sports editors, 90.2 percent of assistant sports editors, 83.5 percent of columnists, 85 percent of reporters and 83.3 percent of copy editors or designers were white. Also, 90.1 percent of sports editors were men.

"The report card is disappointing and shows how far we have to go," said Mike Sherman, APSE's president and sports editor of The Oklahoman. "It's imperative that APSE continue to encourage and assist member organizations as they strive to build staffs that reflect the growing diversity of our communities."

To that end, Sherman noted several efforts APSE has used to foster diversity.

For three years APSE has offered Diversity Fellows, a nine-month program for mid-career minority male and female journalists interested in pursuing careers in management.

Mary Byrne, an NFL, NHL and motor sports editor for ESPN, will become APSE's first female president since Sandra Rosenbush in 1993. Other continuing efforts are conducted by Scripps Howard, which holds a Day of Diversity at Hampton University, and the Sports Journalism Institute, which places minority journalists into internships.

ESPN had a number of people of color who were columnists and sports editors. Of the 16 people of color who were sports editors in the top circulation classification, seven worked at ESPN. Of 11 women who were sports editors at that same level, seven worked for ESPN.

The Boston Globe employed two of the 10 black sports editors in the study and three of the 21 female sports editors.

The 2013 report indicated whites made up 90.9 percent of sports editors, 86.6 percent of assistant sports editors, 83.9 percent of columnist, 86.3 percent of reporters and 86 percent of copy editors/designers. Males accounted for 90.4 percent of sports editors that year.

Report author Richard Lapchick said it's imperative that media outlets find a way to ensure their staffs are more representative of the communities they cover.

Lapchick recommends APSE consider formalizing a policy similar to the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires organizations to have a diverse pool of candidates, including women and people of color, for each key job opening.

While some sports departments have their own policies to ensure diversity, Lapchick said it should be APSE-wide.

"I think formalizing it makes a statement. Individuals are doing it, but there's no tracking, so we don't know how extensive it is and there's nobody holding them accountable," Lapchick said. "If there were a formal policy, I think it would provide some of the results to change the numbers. We would not end up with as bad of results as some of the media outlets collectively have had."


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