A 2018 survey by the American Society of News Editors, the most recent data available, found only 7.19% of full-time newsroom employees were Black. Only about 20% of those Black employees were in leadership positions, and there is no data on how many of those leaders are Black women.
A conversation with three Black women in top editorial positions in the South revealed that getting into those roles is often just the beginning of the challenges.
Jewell Walston, executive editor of The Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina, said leading through times of financial uncertainty, media distrust, and competition from social media has been challenging.
“We recently had a reduction in force in the USA Today Network. Leading up to it, of course, were plenty of questions. Everyone wants to know how is this going to affect me and am I going to be in the reduction. For me, I let them know, ‘Listen, I am just where you are. I have the same concerns. But what’s important for day-to-day is to focus on why you came into the business, what we still want to accomplish, and today’s assignment. You have to play through that and control what you can control,'” Walston said.
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