The nation's newspapers, including many that for years decried the lack of black representation in Congress, on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms, have not increased the percentage of African-Americans in newsrooms above 1968 levels — and may have even cut the numbers.

According to a report on the Columbia Journalism Review and census data from the American Society of News Editors, blacks in newsrooms represent 4.78 percent of the staff. In 1968, the year of race riots following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., LBJ's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders put the number of blacks in newsrooms at "less than 5 percent."

CJR's Alex T. Williams said the numbers are higher when all minorities are included, according the ASNE survey, but still a tiny 13.34 percent.

"The percentage of minorities employed in daily newspapers (the ASNE looks at black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, and multiracial populations) has increased from 3.95 percent in 1978, when the ASNE began conducting the census, to 13.34 percent in 2014. The Radio Television Digital News Association estimates that in 2014, minorities made up 13 percent of journalists in radio and 22.4 percent of journalists in television," wrote Williams.

"Still, these figures are a far cry from the 37.4 percent of Americans that are minorities," Williams added.

The figures for Washington reporters aren't much different. Secrets recently interviewed American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April Ryan who determined that just 10 percent of White House regulars are black.

The author of The Presidency in Black and White said, "I've come out of that lower press room door, past the podium, or walked by and looked into that crowd. It shocks me sometimes. I'm like, 'Wow!'"

Columbia Journalism Review.

It's not an education thing. Other figures in the report said that minorities account for 24.2 percent of journalism or communications majors at colleges and universities. And they accounted for 21 percent of graduates from those programs.

The problem seems to be that minorities don't get the job offers.

"Here, I found an alarming trend. Comparing the 2013 job placement rates, graduating minorities that specialized in print were 17 percentage points less likely to find a full-time job than non-minorities; minorities specializing in broadcasting were 17 percentage points less likely to find a full-time job; and minorities specializing in public relations were 25 percentage points less likely to find a full-time job. In contrast, minorities specializing in advertising were only 2 percentage points less likely to find a full-time job than their white counterparts," wrote Williams.

Overall, 49 percent of minority graduates found jobs versus 66 percent of white graduates.

Williams, a PhD student and accomplished freelancer, calls for newsrooms to open up hiring, as the LBJ commission did decades ago when they wrote: "The media report and write from the standpoint of a white man's world ... fewer than 5 percent of the people employed by the news business in editorial jobs in the United States today are Negroes."

Williams suggested, "Rather than approaching hiring with a one-size-fits-all mentality, newsrooms should try to interview a variety of candidates. If a job candidate is a solid, curious writer with drive and a good work ethic, they deserve consideration. By making this small adjustment, more minority candidates will get their foot in the door—literally—which could help address the decades-long criticism that newsrooms need more diversity."

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at