The San Francisco Chronicle this week says it will become more conscious of its graphic coverage of gender and race groups to ensure that the paper accurately represents the population that it covers.
The paper's deputy editor, Narda Zacchino, committed to a yearlong look at every section in an attempt to measure coverage in terms of race, gender, economic status, geography and age.
Staff writer Dick Rogers served as the catalyst for the survey by asking in a column "Numbers Offer Guide to Better Coverage") whether the paper faithfully "reflects the world it covers or is it more like a fun-house mirror, distorted and inaccurate?"
Roger's query was prompted by a reader who questioned a photo published in last month's Chronicle picturing 11 men and women from California who had died in Iraq, none of whom was African American. San Francisco resident Donald Mark wrote to the paper saying he was dismayed by the omission.
In Roger's column, editors at the Chronicle noted that they did not know of any African American soldiers from Northern California who had died in the war.
However, after the column's publication, Rogers and his editorial assistant, Shelah Moody, began analyzing the papers' graphics coverage by race and gender.
Their findings, said Rogers, "were eye opening." Of the graphics on the daily's December front pages, 72 percent were of men and 28 percent were of women. When broken down by race, 52 percent of front page photos were of persons of European descent, 17 percent were of African Americans, 18 percent were of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 8 percent were of Latin-Americans.
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"Numbers offer guide to better coverage":
During the past 14 months, women in the military services in the Persian Gulf and surrounding areas have accused U.S. military personnel of 112 incidents of sexual misconduct, according to Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that covers military affairs.
In Congressional testimony Wednesday, military leaders reported 86 cases in the Army, 12 in the Navy, eight in the Air Force and six in the Marine Corps, the newspaper reported.