Study Finds NPR Airwaves Dominated by White Men

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Media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, finds very few women and people of color on air at the media organization

A new study by the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) finds that NPR commentary is overcrowded with white male voices.

The study was based on an examination of transcripts from Jan. 1 to May 31, 2015 of Morning EditionAll Things ConsideredWeekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Addition Sunday. It focused on the balance of regular contributors — people who had presented their perspectives in monologue form twice or more on the shows during that time period.

The study found that of these 14 voices, only two were women and only two were people of color. Of the 106 segments that were examined, only 4 percent included female commentators, while 20 percent featured people of color (but no women of color). The two regular female correspondents, Bonny Wolf and Tess Taylor focus on cooking and poetry, respectively. The two minority commentators are Eric Deggans, an African American writer and TV critic, and Betto Arcos, a Mexican-American who covers music culture.

FAIR conducted a similar study of the programs’ in 2003, and the new study reveals that women and people of color have actually lost ground at NPR, making up a smaller share of its regular commentators than 12 years ago. In 2003, women comprised 24 percent of commentators; in 2015, they comprise 14 percent. People of color constituted 20 percent of regular contributors in 2003, while in 2015 they are at 14 percent.

In 2014, NPR put forth a strategic plan for the next three to five years that included the goal of offering a wider range of voices that “better reflect the fabric of America." 

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