BuzzFeed increases female leadership, according to latest report

The newsroom of the Los Angeles headquarters of the website Buzzfeed.com, photographed Oct. 7, 2013. (Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

BuzzFeed’s 2017 diversity numbers for its newsroom show an overall increase in women and people of color, especially in leadership and managerial roles. Its latest data also shows significantly more women and people of color on staff at all levels than many other American newsrooms, including online-only outlets.

“In the past year, diversity in our newsroom has grown at every level, though there is certainly still room to improve,” Editor in Chief Ben Smith wrote in a note to staff, which was shared with CJR. “We’ve been particularly focused on representation in management over the past year, and continue to look for opportunities to promote people internally who are interested in taking on those bigger roles.”

A spokesperson said the 2017 data is based on the US newsroom’s total staff of approximately 200 reporters and editors, which is about two-thirds of BuzzFeed’s global news team. Gender diversity at the company fell slightly, from 61.3 percent in 2016 to 60.6 percent in 2017. The percentage of female managers also fell slightly to 61.1 percent, down from 64.4 percent in 2016. However, the newsroom saw growth in the number of female leaders (defined mostly as executive editors), from 36.4 percent in 2016 to 50 percent in 2017.

Representation of people of color in managerial and leadership levels also saw growth in 2017, to 24.1 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Sign up for CJR's daily email

When BuzzFeed first released diversity data in the fall of 2014, representation of people of color on its editorial staff was only 27.3 percent, compared to 2017’s 37.9 percent. The most recent numbers put BuzzFeed ahead of other US digital outlets, where, according to ASNE, minorities comprise 24.3 percent of all employees.

BuzzFeed’s release of diversity data is part of a larger trend of efforts by news organizations like Vox, The Marshall Project, and NPR to increase newsroom transparency regarding issues like gender inequality and consistently low employment rates for minorities in the industry. However, even with greater awareness of the need to hire, promote, and retain more women and people of color, there is much more work to be done.

Correction: A previous version of this story listed Ben Smith as the CEO of BuzzFeed. He is the Editor in Chief.

RELATED: Marshall Project reveals diversity of its staff in new report

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Karen K. Ho is a CJR Delacorte Fellow. Follow her on Twitter @karenkho.