BuzzFeed, Vox, fail in more ways than just ‘diversity and inclusion’
June 29, 2021
An analysis of company reports and publicly available personnel data show that two of the media’s most progressive outlets, are in fact, largely white, with newsroom personnel that does not represent the true diversity of the U.S. population.
Woke media companies Buzzfeed and Vox love to portray themselves as the epitome of the new “explanatory” journalism—that is, progressive propaganda disguised as news.
But perhaps they should first take a stab at explaining why they have not been able to match their deeds with their rhetoric on their “diversity and inclusion” goals.
In 2016, Swati Sharma, Vox’s editor in chief said on the Newman Lab website, “If your newsroom isn’t diverse, you’re failing at journalism. 2017 should be the year that publications should finally embrace this notion.”
More than four years later, the numbers say that perhaps Buzzfeed and Vox aren’t even trying to be diverse.
Therefore, by Sharma’s stated values, they must be failing at journalism.
Vox’s newsroom, outside of video and podcasts, is over 60 percent female, and over 70 percent White. The company has just six Blacks covering written editorial, and three of them are Vox Fellows, hires relatively new to journalism, brought on as trainees.
Interestingly, the hard news areas of the company, politics, policy, and tech, split 76% percent White, and 52% female versus male.
And the same inequalities that Buzzfeed would blast any police department for still exist at the progressive outlet, even though the “diversity and inclusion” problem at Buzzfeed has been apparent for a lot longer than at Vox.
BuzzFeed has publicly said that diversity and inclusion is a top priority.
but as I told @mayabinyam, it has yet to back up that talk at the bargaining table with @bfnewsunion.https://t.co/T8dCzmWTmP pic.twitter.com/9rWDGlJ7dq
— Stephanie M. Lee (@stephaniemlee) November 23, 2020
In 2017, Buzzfeed self-reported that 83% of its U.S. management was White. While the company doesn’t make an apples-to-apples comparison for 2020, according to its own reporting “Employee representation decreases [at Buzzfeed] for BIPOC [Black, Indigenous People of Color] employees compared to white employees across levels 6-9.”
That’s out of 12 levels of employment. And quite honestly, levels 10, 11, and 12 look quite uneven, with only Whites highly represented.
“Before the May 25 killing of George Floyd, which led to protests around the world and put race front and center within the journalism community,” wrote Vanity Fair in June of last year, “these issues were already beginning to percolate at BuzzFeed News. A couple of weeks ago, the newsroom’s union began surveying its 74 members about diversity within the organization. One of the takeaways, according to people familiar with the survey, was that many employees are concerned with the overwhelming whiteness of newsroom leadership.”
As a check, consider this: That hotbed of that racially-tinged, violent policing that media like Vox and Buzzfeed complain about, the Chicago Police Department, was 50% white, 25% Hispanic, 21% Black and 3% Asian as of 2017, the year Sharma said the newsrooms needed change.
Of course, the better question might be for each of these organizations to ask how well they reported on the news last year, not what color and gender are the reporters.
Because last year was a bad year for reporting.
Before the Trump claims of voter fraud, the biggest story of the election in 2020 was how the media reported that the Biden was up nearly double digits on Trump, when in fact Biden won just 51% of the vote.
“An ABC News/Washington Post national poll released Sunday found Biden leading Trump with likely voters by 12 percentage points,” reported Vox in October, “54 percent to 42 percent, with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates together attracting just 3 percent of likely voters.”
Then there was the reporting on the origin of the COVID-19 virus that media companies shut down in what seems like an exercise of speaking lies for power, versus the old mantra they like to use of speaking truth to power.
“Fifty-seven percent (57%) of voters think it’s likely that U.S. government officials actively tried to cover up the possibility that COVID-19 was created in a Wuhan, China, laboratory,” said a survey released today by pollster Scott Rasmussen.
And it’s not a coincidence that 56% of Americans agree with the statement: “Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”
So while newsrooms play games with race and gender, creating benchmarks, which, they never intend to keep, perhaps they should go back to reporting news and not worry about who’s is doing it.
“56% of Americans agree with the statement that "Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations." https://t.co/2xlXr0R1qU
— Josh Kraushaar (@JoshKraushaar) January 21, 2021
As the Chicago Police Department has shown, diversity, by itself, is no substitute for a job well done.
And the current crop of reporters at Buzzfeed and Vox have certainly failed, in more ways than just diversity.