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Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Color free magazines

As white as your average magazine

Vanilla Ceiling
Magazines Still
Shades Of White

By: Lizzy Ratner
Date: 1/16/2006
Page: 1

In the spring of 2000, when Nedra Rhone was still a bright-eyed graduate student at Columbia’s School of Journalism, she had the fortune of landing an interview with a recruiter for Gruner + Jahr’s glossy-covered Fitness magazine. The recruiter was white; Ms. Rhone was black. They chatted amiably for several minutes, small-talking their way through her fitness background and writing experience. And then the recruiter said something that rather surprised her.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you want to work for Essence?’” Ms. Rhone recalled. Essence is not a sibling Gruner + Jahr publication, but was an independently owned production of Essence Communications Partners. It caters to a largely African-American audience and has nothing to do with fitness.

“I didn’t say anything, because I was so taken aback,” Ms. Rhone said. “But then he followed with ‘How about O magazine?’—which I thought was even more interesting, because that’s obviously not a black publication; it just so happens that Oprah is. So I was really kind of confused by the whole thing.”

A spokesperson at Fitness, which is now published by Meredith Corporation, declined to comment and referred calls to a spokesperson for Gruner + Jahr. That spokesperson also declined to comment.

After getting turned down by Fitness and a second magazine, Ms. Rhone eventually landed a job in the comparatively welcoming environment of a major New York–area newspaper. In 2005, after taking a second crack at the magazine industry, she decided to head south for a job at a large Southern newspaper. “It’s a very difficult environment to penetrate,” she said of the magazine scene.

At Condé Nast, the premier magazine empire, the fleet of 29 top editors includes just one person of color.

“The magazine industry is probably the least diverse of any of the media. They’ve taken a real pass,” said Pamela Newkirk, a professor at New York University’s Department of Journalism and author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media. “As I say that, I can just hear all the people trying to shake the trees to tell you they have all this diversity—and then start mentioning people in the mailroom. But no, I’ve been in too many of these places, and I know firsthand that they are just not diverse.”

The New York Observer is not a magazine, but for fairness’ sake: This newspaper is a very delicate shade of salmon. Out of 40 editors, writers and contributors, there are two people of color.


Still, the results of the survey revealed a world that looks little like the streets of New York, where nearly 65 percent of the population identified itself as nonwhite in the 2000 census.

Of the 203 staffers and contributors listed on the Vanity Fair masthead, six—or less than 3 percent—are people of color.

At Condé Nast Traveler, the swank travel monthly, 11 of the 85 staffers and contributors listed on the masthead are people of color. Of those 11 staffers, three hold editing positions and two are contributing editors, while six hold lower-masthead positions as researchers and assistant editors.

The New Yorker doesn’t publish a masthead, but based on conversations with sources and available published information, the magazine has a pool of some 130 editors, critics, copy editors, fact checkers, editorial assistants and outside contributors—of whom 11 are people of color.

At Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone, four members of the magazine’s 73-person editorial staff are people of color. Six members of New York magazine’s 90-person team of editors, writers, contributors and editorial assistants are not white. (Between 15 and 17 percent of the overall magazine staff are people of color, according to New York spokeswoman Serena Torrey. “We hope we will continue to grow,” she said.) At Forbes, an estimated seven people out of a pool of 116 editors, writers, reporters, editorial assistants, copy editors and bureau correspondents are people of color.

And the non-glossy Nation lists eight people of color among its 99 writers, editors, editorial-board members and Nation Institute fellows.

The Nation’s publisher and editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, acknowledged that the veteran weekly “need[s] to do a better job in this area.” But, she said, masthead statistics were only part of the magazine’s diversity story.

“We are always out looking for more diversity in terms of our writers, in terms of our editors,” she said, citing efforts to recruit more minority freelance journalists as well as a recently created Nation Institute fellowship for writers of color and a new conversation series between mystery writer Walter Mosely and other minority writers and activists.

Editors for the other magazines declined to comment on staff diversity.

Katrina, you're full of shit.

Out of 100 people, you can find eight editors or writers of color in a city of 8 million people?

These numbers are ridiculous. New York is 54 percent minority, minorities graduate every year from NYU, Fordham, Brooklyn, Queens and City undergrad programs. More are discharged from the Armed Forces with Journalism MOS's and you can't find any? How the fuck hard are you looking? There is a world beyond the Ivies.

If Citibank had eight minority branch managers or any hospital had a similiar ratio of black and latino management, it would be a fucking scandal and you know it. If the Post had a similiar ratio of black staff it would be unacceptable.

So cut the bullshit. You could find as many people as you want or don't want. But don't talk to me about progressive politics when your staff is as white as a country club.

posted by Steve @ 2:34:00 AM

2:34:00 AM

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