Media Matters has conducted a survey on diversity on the Sunday morning talk shows and, once again, the results show that for the most part, the panels that are brought together to discuss the pressing issues of the day are overwhelmingly white males.
“Six of the seven shows analyzed – This Week, Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, Meet the Press, State of the Union, and Up – have hosted white men at a significantly higher rate than their 31 percent portion of the population,” the site writes. In fact, “75 percent of Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday solo interview subjects were white men,” the article continues. Gender diversity is also an issue.
On both fronts — gender and ethnic diversity — the networks are improving, with MSNBC the clear front runner in these areas. In fact, it’s one MSNBC show in particular, The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, that tops all others.
“Melissa Harris-Perry provided the greatest diversity among guests, providing a much higher rate of white women and African-American guests than the other programs,” the results find.
When we talk about this topic, it’s not just about diversity for diversity’s sake. If the point of these shows, and of media in general, is to present the news and then provide context and analysis, varying perspectives bring the texture necessary to achieve that.
“The dearth of diverse perspectives in media discussions is very telling of how America continues to deal with, or not, issues of race and ethnicity,” Tia T. Gordon, founder and CEO of TTG+Partners told us in an email. “…It’s a thoughtless (and lazy) approach to having real conversations about real issues that affect real Americans. If the bookers of these Sunday talk shows would look beyond their ‘usual suspects’ of guests—and work with PR folks like me who often pitch without success a long roster of qualified, well articulate African-American experts who could speak on a myriad of issues—they will begin to understand that broader discussions could happen.”
In other words, finding even a few more guests with diverse backgrounds to speak on the topics of the day shouldn’t be so difficult for the media. Soledad O’Brien, speaking to FishbowlNY at a recent media event, says it’s “disheartening” that she’s been talking about this topic for the past 26 years.
“It’s actually not that hard. All you need to do is tell the stories of diverse people and hire diverse people. You can make sure that you’re promoting and supporting your diverse candidates who you want to be in leadership positions, because that’s really how the tone in an organization is set,” the site says.
To keep this conversation going , MadameNoire Business will be talking with TTG+Partners and Colorlines publisher Rinku Sen will be participating in a Twitter chat tomorrow at noon ET, “Covering Race in the Media.” Join us on Twitter (#ttgpchat) and bring your questions and thoughts on this topic. Check out the details here.