Shortage of Asian American male broadcast journalists in US: study

MUMBAI:There is a critical shortage of Asian American male broadcast journalists in the US, according to a first-ever study that quantifies the problem and addresses some of the reasons behind it.

"Asian Male Broadcasters on TV: Where Are They?" was conducted by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications and was released at the ongoing 15th annual convention of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) taking place from 7-10 August in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

In the top 25 television markets, there are a total of 85 Asian females on-air and 19 Asian males on-air, resulting in a nearly 5 to 1 ratio of women versus men, the USC study found.

AAJA President Victor Panichkul said: " The results of this study as well as the results of surveys done by RTNDA [Radio-Television News Directors Association] lend credence to the concerns that our male broadcast journalists have been raising in the past few years that the gender disparity among Asian Americans in broadcasting is significant. When our numbers are compared to the numbers of male and female African American, Native American, or Hispanic broadcast journalists, what we see is a problem that impacts our members more significantly than other people of color."

In light of the findings, AAJA will re-evaluate its current programmes to see how the organisation can better target them toward Asian American males with an interest in broadcast journalism, Panichkul said. In addition, AAJA hopes that other industry organizations will take part in helping to find solutions to this problem.

Some of the findings in the study include:

1. Asian Americans make up a small percentage of the student population in US journalism schools, but males far out-number females by approximately 4 to 1.

2. In making career choices, Asian American male students are highly motivated by parents, prestige and starting salaries. They are more likely to go into science-related occupations.

3. There is a lack of key Asian American male broadcast role models (such as Connie Chung is for Asian American females).

The results from the USC study confirm other research done on the makeup of broadcast newsrooms. A recent Ball State University study found that Asians make up 2.7 per cent of the broadcast newsroom in 2001, or about 650 people. Asian males constituted only 1 per cent of the workforce, while Asian females made up 1.7 per cent. Meanwhile, there are more Hispanic, African American and white males than females in the newsroom, the survey found.

The USC study is based on surveys of the top 25 television markets and top journalism schools in the United States. Interviews with program managers, news directors, and agents in the television industry as well as a focus group of Asian American students were also conducted.

AAJA is a non-profit educational association based in San Francisco, devoted to training and developing Asian American journalists and ensuring fair and accurate coverage of the Asian American community. It has 1,700 members in 18 chapters across the United States and Asia.

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