Media still run by white people; Pope still Catholic.
The New York Observer's weekly media column decided to address the issue of race representation in magazine management with Lizzy Ratner's "Vanilla Ceiling: Magazines Still Shades Of White." Not surprisingly, the industry is one of the whitest in the media, as noted in Ratner's informal survey of the staffs of various magazines located here in New York, where 65% of the population identifies as non-white. Only Katrina van den Heuvel was willing to comment on the issue:
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.
Gawker, ever the media critic, decided to assign an analyst -- their Special Correspondent for Brown-People Issues -- to the article. His findings:
"'Several industry professionals traced this silence to the fact that magazines are, in the end, just magazines: waxy-paged collections of ads and articles that may provide everything from political analysis to eyebrow-waxing advice, but are hardly essential guardians of the public interest,' Ratner writes. This, then, is the We Also Promote Eating Disorders And A Low Self-Esteem So Why Get Huffy Over Racial Discrimination defense.
'But, on the other hand, there is a diversity of magazines,' Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker tells Ratner. 'So it's just a different kind of diversity exists already.' This one is the Y'all Motherfuckers Got Vibe and Essence So Shut The Hell Up defense.
'There is definitely no sense of shame about not having a diverse staff the way there was 10 years ago,' an anonymous Asian-American glossy-mag editor said. Now we're seeing the Y'all Not Wearing Chains No More, So We're Not Going to Feel Shame No More defense.
And finally, 'I think, in people's minds, it's not like, 'Let's not hire any black people,'' said Hung author Scott Poulson-Bryant, a founding editor of Vibe. 'It's just like, 'I don't really know any black people to hire, and I don't really want to do the work to find out who they are.'' Which is the beloved Where the Hell Are All the Black People When You Need One? defense. "