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Minority Reporting On The Rise

Fri., Feb. 6, 1998

Last year, for the first time in a decade, the most visible nightly-news correspondents were all male, and, with one exception, white, according to a new survey from Southern Illinois University.

Still, minority reporters had their best year, accounting for 18 percent of those delivering reports on the network newscasts. Also, minority reporters rang up 15 percent of the newscast stories, a jump of 50 percent over 1993.

Indeed, Jim Avila, a Hispanic, was ranked No. 5 overall, contributing 105 stories to NBC’s newscasts last year. CBS’ Bill Whitaker and Vicki Mabrey were the highest-ranking blacks, finishing No. 29 and No. 33, respectively.

In all, CBS had 10 minority correspondents (21 percent of its lineup), who filed 14 percent of the stories. NBC had nine minority reporters (17 percent) who handled 16 percent of the stories. And ABC had 11 minority correspondents (16 percent), who filed 13 percent of its stories.

Joe Foote, dean of SIU’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, annually tracks reporters who file five stories or more a year.

The most visible correspondent last year was NBC’s Washington, D.C.-based Robert Hager, with 142 stories aired. CBS’ Scott Pelley, who reported on the Oklahoma City bombing trials, was No. 2, with 127 stories. And NBC’s Denver-based Roger O’Neil was No. 3, with 117 stories.

NBC’s Lisa Myers was the highest-ranking woman, at No. 12, with 81 stories. CBS’ Diana Olick was No. 15, with 77 stories. And CBS’ Rita Braver was No. 17, with 67 stories.

The study found there were 167 reporters active on the Big Three newscasts last year, 48 of them women (29 percent).

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