Why it’s difficult for the LA Times to hire, retain, and promote people of color

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It’s been difficult for the LA Times to figure out how to hire more people of color, says Carla Hall. Photo credit: congerdesign/CC 2.0, via Pixabay

Media outlets in Los Angeles are re-examining their hiring practices, diversity and inclusion efforts, and pay disparities.

The LA Times put out a report on Monday, which found that diversity hasn’t changed much since the paper started hiring tons of people two years ago, when Patrick Soon-Shiong took over as the new owner. 

Carla Hall, member of the LA Times’ editorial board and a union officer, shares what’s happening at the Times. 

“There’s a total of 502 staff members at the LA Times, and 303 are white, 65 are Latino, 74 are Asian, and 26 are Black. … In Metro, which is the largest staff, there are 88 people on staff there, and there are 18 Latino staffers, 13 Asian, and three Black people,” she explains. 

She says the big point is that it’s been apparently difficult for the paper to figure out how to hire more people of color.

“Even when folks are here [at the LA Times], it’s difficult for the paper to retain them. It’s difficult for the paper to find ways to promote them. I’ve heard anecdotally arguments about when Black reporters in particular bring a different viewpoint to how they want to cover something, there have been some problems with getting editors to understand,” she says.

She pinpoints the problem to management. “Management hasn’t really focused on this. They haven’t focused on how to get more diverse voices into the paper, and how to nurture those voices.” 

Editor's note: During this conversation, Carla Hall cited figures from the LA Times' Diversity Report that only represented the Metro section, not the paper's entire newsroom. According to the paper's internal Diversity Report, the breakdown of the paper is 60.4 percent White, 12.9 percent Latino, 14.7 percent Asian, 5.2 percent Back, 3.2 percent two or more races, 0.2 percent American Indian, 2.4 percent Middle Eastern or North African, and 2.2 percent "decline to state." In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Hispanic or Latino population of LA County to be 48.6 percent."

Credits

Guest:
Carla Hall - editorial board member of the LA Times and officer in the LA Times Guild

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Caleigh Wells, Angie Perrin