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Diversity in the newsroom

People of colour and women underrepresented as top editors

Top editors and male and white. Persons of colour and women are underrepresented. Overall, 23% of the 81 top editors across 100 brands in five countries are people of colour, despite that on average, 44% of the general population are people of colour, a new survey by Reuters Institute shows. Only 22% of 180 top editors across 240 news outlets are women, despite that on average, 40% of journalists in 12 markets investigated are women, a previous study by the Institute has shown.

The countries in the survey about top editors of colour are Brazil, Germany, South Africa, the UK and the US. If South Africa is excluded, 11% of the top editors are people of colour, compared with, on average, 31% of the general population.

In Brazil and Germany, as in 2022, none of the outlets in the survey have a person of colour as top editor. 

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In the UK, 6% of those in top editorial positions are people of colour. In the US, the percentage of top editors of colour remained the same as in 2022, at 33%. 

In South Africa, 80% of top editors are people of colour, up from 73% in 2022.

“Like in previous years, in every single country covered, the percentage of people of colour in the general population remains higher than among top editors”, the Institute says.

“The share of internet news users who say that they read news from at least one major outlet with a top editor of colour ranges from 0% in Brazil and Germany to 91% in South Africa.

Who occupies top editorial positions in major news organisations matters, both practically and symbolically. The racial and ethnic composition of newsroom management can affect diversity in hiring, retention, and promotion as well as in news content itself, influencing editorial decision-making and attention to stories and experiences that reflect the communities news organisations serve.” 

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The previous survey shows that among the 38 new top editors appointed across the brands covered, 26% are women. In the US and Finland, half of the new top editors appointed in the past year are women, but in many other markets, few are.

In all 12 markets, the majority of top editors are men, including in countries where women outnumber men among working journalists.

The percentage of women in top editorial positions varies significantly from market to market, from 5% in Mexico to 44% in the US.

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