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Editorial: Building on Strong Record of Diversity

Sep 21, 2008  •  Post A Comment

For years, advocates have argued that advancing the cause of diversity in the media is good for business. The honorees at this year’s Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner prove the point. The only question now is how much more the television industry can do to advance the cause.
The dinner matched last year’s fundraising, bringing in $1.7 million for organizations that support diversity in the cable industry. We applaud everyone who backed the event and recognize the other efforts that networks, cable operators, studios and syndication companies make to ensure the programming and workforce in television are diverse.
We also urge them to look to the examples set by this year’s Kaitz honorees, Scripps Networks and Bright House Networks.
Both companies internalize the notion that diversity is good for business and they act on it. At Scripps, the company teamed with college students to take a detailed look at how well its cable channels’ programming represented diverse people. That research found that on HGTV, 21% of show hosts were black, Asian or Latino. Fifty-one percent of guests on Food network were people of color. On Fine Living, 27% of show experts were people of color.
While those numbers are respectable, the company found areas where programming wasn’t as diverse. For instance, 71% of the guests on DIY’s shows were men (perhaps reflecting a parallel with the network’s audience).
Armed with that data, Scripps is working to improve the representation of non-whites and to have programs better reflect the racial composition of audiences.
Bright Roll’s diversity initiatives include recruiting and retention of minority workers, with management insisting that all employment searches include a diverse set of finalists. The company also has financially supported community organizations that represent diversity interests. Beneficiaries have included the Hispanic Excellence Scholarship Foundation as well as a Martin Luther King celebration.
Any manager with a modicum of self-awareness understands just how much he or she doesn’t get it when it comes to understanding how people of different genders, ethnicities or backgrounds think. Those blind spots are magnified in the media world, where the content produced must be perceived as authentic by target audiences.
The Kaitz Foundation’s support of the Emma Bowen Foundation, the National Association of Multi-ethnicity in Communications and Women in Cable Telecommunications helps place professionals who help managers narrow those blind spots. Anything that companies in the television industry do to support Kaitz ends up benefiting the companies themselves. We urge the industry to step up its support for the cause.

4 Comments

  1. What is “diversity”, exactly?
    Are we really talking about a few certain groups, or ALL groups? Yes, we can want to see more “people of color,” yet it is too narrow minded of a view.
    Let’s take Native Americans. Nowhwere are they classified as people of color. Is Asian also Asian Indian (as most say they are Asian) and Phillipino?
    Sure, saying you want diversity is fine. But what exactly is “seeing the rainbow?” I would imagine its seeing all colors, dispite that we cannot see some frequencies, we should try to see as many colors and frequencies as possible.
    But also remember, diversity is other things beyond race as well. It is “orientation,” differing points of views, etc. And I’m not talking about that bill to show all sides at once.
    These are newer points of what “diversity” really is. The rainbow flag shows many colors… that shouod mean something to those who really want the melting pot in the media(s).

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