We made a commitment last year to figure out how we're reflecting the diversity of our community in the voices you hear on KUT. We started with a baseline of the first three months of 2018, when we weren't paying attention, to get an idea of who we had on air.
In September, we started tracking the demographics of our sources on an ongoing basis. We’re looking at a few attributes: gender, race/ethnicity and expertise. We promised to share this data on an ongoing basis.
Here’s how we’ve done up through February of this year.
Many months, we’ve moved closer to gender parity in our sources — improving over our baseline of 69% male/31% female in the first quarter of 2018. November 2018 was our most evenly split month gender-wise, with 53% male sources and 47% female sources. In January 2019, we saw our worst performance on this metric since we started tracking monthly stats — with 68% of our sources being male.
We're also tracking whether gender biases exist based on the gender of KUT journalists. We have seen a narrowing of the male/female source divide among both male and female journalists, during most months. But the male reporters still have a clear bias toward male sources. There may be some correlation with the beats male reporters are covering (some may be more male-dominated than others), but it certainly doesn’t explain all the imbalance.
The race/ethnicity of our sources began at a baseline of 75% non-Hispanic white in the first quarter of 2018. That’s a significant over-representation of the white population in the Austin area. Since then, our numbers have fluctuated month-to-month. We saw a significant decline in the percentage of non-Hispanic white sources last September, but since then the numbers have held steady in the mid-60% range. In the three months between December ’18 and February '19, our representation of Latinx sources has been increasing, but we’ve had a corresponding decline in the percentage of African-American sources.
We began with an over-representation of sources who are government officials in the first three months that we tracked. We broke that down a little when we started tracking on a monthly basis. We starting looking at subgroups, including elected officials, educators, police and others.
You can see from the graph below that our use of elected officials as on-air sources jumped significantly in January and February, coinciding with the start of Texas’ biennial legislative session. The start of the session may also account, at least in part, for the bump in male sources we saw in January, given the over-representation of men in the Legislature.