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Retorts to "You Spend Too Much Time on Race"

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June 27, 2014

Race-studies scholars share their responses to the haters; people of color own 3% of commercial TV stations; Tamron Hall wears natural hair for first time on "Today"; Benjamin Chavis named interim CEO of black-press group; World Cup ratings put games among elite sports telecasts; Univision president speaks out on child refugees; foreign-language press thrives; readers may not be online; 42% of top companies link compensation to diversity goals; network news says "billionaire" 4 times more than "poverty" (6/27/14)

Race-Studies Scholars Share Their Responses to the Haters

42% of Top Companies Link Compensation to Diversity Goals

"It's official. White men dominate Silicon Valley,"Thomas Lee wrote Friday for the San Francisco Chronicle.

"While that's not exactly revelatory, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn all recently issued reports that say they need more women and minorities in the workforce.

"'Our intent was to start a dialogue in the industry,'Prasad Setty, Google's vice president of people analytics and compensation, recently told me at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in San Francisco. 'We can't do this alone. How do we get a girl in middle school interested in coding?'

"Shortly after our conversation, the company said it will donate $50 million to encourage women to pursue the field.

"That might sound like a significant commitment, but if these tech giants really care about employees' gender and race (and by calling attention to their own shortcomings, I assume they do), then they should put real skin in the game by linking executive compensation to diversity goals. . . ."

Lee also wrote, "Linking pay to diversity is not as audacious as it sounds. Verizon, Dell, Coca-Cola and Kraft base top managers' pay on diversity initiatives, as do several hospitals and nonprofits. According to a report last year by Calvert Investments, 42 percent of the companies in the Standard & Poor's 100 index link executive compensation to diversity goals. . . ."

As noted earlier in this column, tying compensation to progress on diversity goals was a strategy successfully used by the late Al Neuharth, CEO of the Gannett Co., and supported by Gary Knell, former CEO and president of NPR.

However, Jarl Mohn, a veteran media executive and investor who is NPR's incoming leader, disagreed with the idea. "I'm doing this job not for the money. I haven't made this little money for 25 or 30 years," he told Journal-isms last month. Money "is not why people work there. I don't think people are [incentivized] to change their behavior for money."

Network News Says "Billionaire" 4 Times More Than "Poverty"

"Poverty continues to be a pressing social problem— but it's hardly mentioned on the network newscasts, according to a new study," the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting said Thursday.

"The study looks at ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News for a 14-month period (1/1/13-2/28/14) in the wake of the 2012 elections. FAIR examined stories in the Nexis news database that included and discussed the terms 'poverty,''low income,''food stamps,''welfare' or 'homeless.'

"According to the study:

  • "An average of just 2.7 seconds per 22-minute nightly news program was devoted to segments where poverty was mentioned.

  • "Only 23 segments discussing poverty appeared over the 14-month study period.

  • "Less than half of the 54 segment sources — 22 — were people personally affected by poverty. That means, on average, someone affected by poverty appeared on any nightly news show only once every 20 days.

  • "Over the same period, the network news shows aired almost four times as many stories, 82, that included the term 'billionaire.'

  • "ABC discussed poverty in just three stories in the 14-month period. . . ."

The June 1 FAIR report noted, "There are 482 billionaires in the US, compared to nearly 50 million living in poverty, according to Census standards, which some scholars say greatly undercount the poor . . ."

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