Minorities in Media in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

The #OscarsSoWhite controversy surrounding the 2016 Academy Awards brought the role of minorities in media into the spotlight. The proponents of this hashtag pointed to the winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress awards to highlight the lack of diversity in the Oscars. Up until 2015, just 1.1 percent of non-white females and 6.8 percent of non-white males won the coveted awards. Although this trend continued into 2017, the supporting role awards were won by black actors, Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali, the latter being the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.

However, public opinion remains divided about whether the film industry is doing enough to represent racial minorities. African Americans, in particular, are concerned about movie stereotyping, with 70 percent of respondents in a survey stating that Hollywood films often give into stereotypes when portraying racial minorities.

Moving away from the movie industry, a similar picture emerges in television. In the 2015-2016 television season, 74.6 percent of roles for cable scripted shows went to white actors, whilst 13.3 percent went to black actors, and just 2.6 percent to Asian actors. Behind-the-camera work is no different, as 72 percent of the showrunners for new television shows in the 2016-2017 season were white males, in contrast to six percent who were non-white males and four percent who were non-white females.

In more traditional types of media such as newspapers and publishing, the role of minorities has remained minimal. In 2017, approximately 75.2 percent of employees in TV newsrooms where white, whilst 10.8 percent were Hispanic. It is a similar picture in radio news, where just 5.1 percent of the radio workforce in 2017 were African American. In the publishing industry as a whole, the latest figures show that 87 percent of employees were white, in comparison to only five percent Hispanic and two percent African-American.

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