Back in August, we took a look at the diversity of the sources you hear in KUT’s local news coverage. We went through the data on all our sources’ gender, race and ethnicity, and expertise from the first three months of 2018.
The goal was to see how well we’re reflecting the diversity of the community we serve.
The results were disappointing. We found our sources in the first quarter of the year were overwhelmingly male and white and came from “government.” Clearly, that is not Austin.
After analyzing the data, we decided to track the characteristics of our sources on an ongoing basis. First, we wanted to be transparent. Second, we wanted to put the issue more firmly in the front of our minds when we look for perspectives on the news.
Here’s what we found after analyzing our sources for September.
During the first three months of 2018, we found that 69 percent of our sources were male, and 31 percent were female. We did not identify any non-gender-binary sources.
In September, we found a slightly different breakdown.
Fifty-eight percent of our sources in September were male, and 42 percent were female. Again, we did not identify any non-gender-binary sources.
While that's better than in our original survey, it's still not quite the parity we would like to achieve. Granted, some of this is because more public officials are men.
It’s important to note that more data are needed before we can draw firm conclusions about whether this means we've made actual progress. This may simply be natural fluctuation.
The data show a more even mix of male and female sources when cross-referenced with the reporters’ gender, as well, but there was still a gap.
Earlier this year, we found that 75 percent of our sources were non-Hispanic white, 13 percent were Latino/a, 9 percent were black, 3 percent were Asian and 1 percent were two or more races. Compare those numbers to the census data on Austin: The 2010 census found Austin’s population was roughly 49 percent non-Hispanic white, 35 percent Latino/a, 8 percent black and about 6 percent Asian.
In September, we found that our sources were more evenly distributed across racial and ethnic groups.
Again, though, we need more data before we can draw any conclusions about whether we’ve made progress in accurately reflecting our community.
Cross-referencing race/ethnicity and gender, we continue to find an overreliance on white male sources, though the gap has narrowed somewhat in this data.
Finally, regarding the type of stories in which we hear from sources of color, they continue to be about or address race. Ideally, we would see a more even distribution across all stories — most of which are not about race. We do see some improvement between the first three months of 2018 and September in that regard, though.
Lastly, we looked at the expertise of our sources. Earlier this year, we found an overreliance on sources we classified as “political or government officials.” That was a broad category, including everything from the mayor to a city spokesperson to a school teacher. In January through March, 63 percent of our expert sources fell into that category.
For September, and going forward, we decided to break that category down a little, since there is a big difference between the mayor and a school teacher.
However, we found that the vast majority of our "expert" sources continue to be white.
We're continuing to track the characteristics of the sources you hear in KUT's local coverage; this is only one month. And while we've made progress in some areas, that progress needs to be sustained.
We'll be reporting our findings back to you each month — and as time goes on, we'll see whether the trend is positive or whether there is backsliding. We're working to make sure we hear from all parts of our community and that our news coverage sounds like Central Texas.