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Newspaper readers and Republicans have a lot in common, says media expert

By Zach Dyer

The newspaper industry and the GOP have something in common: an overdependence on older, white men, according to Ken Doctor on his blog for the Nieman Journalism Lab. Doctor blogged that both groups need to fix their demographic problems before they can sure up their long term futures.

As soon as it became clear that Mitt Romney would not be the 45th president of the United States last Tuesday, Nov. 6, commentators and analysts started talking about a demographic sea change in the voting public. Minority participation was up in 2012 and African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans overwhelmingly supported Obama.

Slate reported that 88 percent of Romney voters were white and Pew Research Center for People and the Press noted that Romney led Obama in voters over 45. As the Republican Party debates how to appeal to a broader coalition of voters, newspapers have their own soul-searching to do.

“The print audience — the audience that still responsible for 80 percent or more of almost all newspaper companies’ revenue — strongly parallels the Romney vote in almost every category: age, ethnicity, and gender. Older, White, and male,” according to Scarborough Research, Doctor wrote.

The online newspaper audience is really no more diverse. Greg Harmon of Borrell Associates, a group that tracks readership trends, told blogger Alan Mutter that print and digital readers are essentially the same group and one that “keeps getting older every year.”

Mutter recommended legacy publications get savvy about how to leverage social media and aggregating third party content to start improving their “awful” record of generating new, younger readers.

Newsroom diversity is another factor. Radio and television have seen recent gains in minority employment but print media continues to bring up the rear. Less diverse newsrooms influence what Doctor called “position,” or how journalists approach a topic, immigration for example. Latinos were responsible for only 0.2 percent of front-page articles about immigration, reported the Huffington Post.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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