With broadband dominating the media conversation these days, the Minority Media & Telecommunications council, wants the government to give up employment data for top Silicon Valley companies, including Google, Yahoo! and Apple.
In a letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis dated Sept. 17, MMTC asked the department to reverse its denial of a FOIA request by the San Jose Mercury News for access to information on the employment composition of the aforementioned companies, plus Oracle and Applied Materials.
Those firms argued that race and gender information was a trade secret, according to reporter Mike Swift, and that it would casue "commercial harm" for Labor to release it. Labor denied the FOIA request.
The data for companies for which Swift did get info showed that while staffing had gone up, the percentage of African-Americans and women employees and managers had decreased.
"Gaining access to the race and gender employment data of technology and information service companies is crucial at a time when the United States is struggling to use broadband to rebuild and revitalize our communities," said MMTC, "and must draw upon the skills and creativity of all members of our diverse society in order to do so."
MMTC does not want the new media to be allowed to repeat the patterns of the old.
"Unfortunately, if we look to the status of traditional media as a guide to determine our progress in
employment diversity, the results are disheartening," the group wrote. "Minorities comprise 35 percent of the population, yet own only 7.24 percent of commercial radio stations, and minorities and women, respectively, own only 3.15 and 5.87 percent of commercial full-ower television stations." MMTC noted. "In light of this background, understanding the employment composition of new media companies and information service companies is crucial."