JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

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Wednesday, May 14, 2003
 
Data

Yesterday, I asked: "What is needed are more data, and it is not difficult to figure out what data are needed. For instance, what are the promotion rates from the reporter internship program to the national staff? Is it near 100 percent? Is it, in fact, 100 percent? Is the hardest part of getting on the national staff actually getting the initial internship? What are the promotion rates by race? Do black interns get preference? Was Blair an exception or did he fit a pattern? Did Blair, in fact, receive preferential treatment?"

Some data has been found. Since 1995, there have been 44 people in the New York Times program Jayson Blair was in. Thirty-seven were promoted to the full-time staff. Of the 7 who were not, 3 were black. Of the 37 who were promoted, 16 were members of minority groups. (We don't know how many of these 16 were black.) With this data, we find:

The New York Times had an overall 84.1 percent promotion rate from internship to staff (the 37 promoted divided by 44 total).

The New York Times had, at most, a 84.2 percent promotion rate for minorities from internship to staff (the 16 promoted divided by 16+3 we know were in the total -- we don't know how many of the other seven who were not promoted were 'minorities').

From this glimpse into the New York Times newsroom, it does not seem that 'affirmative action' played a large role in promotion decisions. To me, it looks like Blair was a con-man and there is nothing more to this story.

These data are, of course, limited, but for those saying that 'affirmative action' *necesarily* played a role in his promotion and his tenure at the Times, the ball is in your court.

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