Nearly 40 percent of the country is non-white and/or Hispanic, but the number of minorities at the outlets included in this article's tally—most of them self-identified as liberal or progressive—hovers around 10 percent. The Washington Monthly can boast 20 percent, but that's because it only has nine staffers in total, two of whom belong to minority groups. Dissent, like the Prospect, has none. Given the broad commitment to diversity in our corner of the publishing world, why is the track record so poor?
Actually, the national percentage of “non-white and/or Hispanic” is below 30 percent, not “nearly 40 percent,” but Arana's basic thesis is correct. But his list of categories is impoverished. “Whites” are assumed to be a single, uniformly “privileged” group, but of course this is not the case. My guess, based on decades of newsroom exposure, is that these liberal media outlets, and media outlets generally, tend to have disproportionately high percentages of Jews and of men and women from elite colleges and universities. I suspect that if you took a census of where their personnel went to high school, you would find disproportionately high numbers from elite private schools and from certain elite public high schools (Stuyvesant in New York, New Trier in the Chicago suburbs, etc.). I would bet considerable amounts of money that you won't find many, if any, people who grew up in West Virginia or eastern Kentucky, in low-income rural counties in the South or farm counties in the Midwest.
Arana stumbles but gets close to a legitimate point: Journalists should make an effort to understand the nation and the world, to learn to look at life from the perspectives of others with different experiences. Hiring editors (to the extent there are some today) might be wise to look for new personnel in unlikely places, people not only from the South Bronx but also from West Virginia.
But no profession ends up having a racial, ethnic, regional and religious profile identical to that of the entire nation, and liberal publications, however hard they try, are unlikely to have a profile that approximates that of Democratic voters generally. We all have limited backgrounds and a lot to learn. But give Gabriel Arana credit for this: While other liberals delight in flagellating conservative movements and organizations for not matching the nation’s racial percentages, he has looked in the mirror and found reason for self-flagellation.