AP Lays Off Diversity Advocate
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Robert Naylor Jr., a diversity advocate within the Associated Press who was director of career development/news, was laid off on Friday, a day after the news cooperative announced it would restore a key diversity initiative, its internship programs.
Naylor's departure follows other layoffs, including those of other long-serving journalists of color: Dolores Barclay, East Coast entertainment editor, and Andrew Fraser, assistant Pennsylvania bureau chief, based in Philadelphia.
Although the restoration of the intern programs was to take place after a year's suspension, AP spokesmen had said in December it was conditional on "a budgetary review." Naylor supervised many of the AP's diversity programs as director of career development/news. He told fellow recruiter Bill Elsen, formerly of the Washington Post, that he planned to continue to be involved with students. "I love working with students," he said.
The AP has not said who will take over Naylor's responsibilities. Paul Colford, AP director of media relations, said by email on Saturday: "The AP remains committed to diversity. Nothing has altered that commitment. We are confident that a number of well-wired leaders in our newsroom and on the business side will continue to direct our efforts."
Naylor, 55, grew up in Mississippi and arrived at the AP in 1987 after three years as metro editor at his hometown newspaper, the Meridian Star.
He sent this note Friday to his AP colleagues:
"After more than 24 years of being able to call myself a colleague of some the most amazing journalists on the planet, today is my last day at The Associated Press. My position has been eliminated.
"In many ways, it’s a sad day since AP has given me a professional home and family for so long. But I leave with a great sense of accomplishment and an eye toward the future. I will never lose my passion for finding and developing talent, or my fierce advocacy for newsroom diversity, which is both the right thing to do and good business.
"Many of you have heard me say that we need to ask ourselves what we’d do if we didn’t do this. I have taken my own advice and asked myself that question. The answers are not easy and I’m still trying to answer them for myself. But I do have some ideas.
"We become journalists out of a sense of mission and because we are, in many ways, idealists. In nearly 34 years as a journalist, I’ve never lost that idealism. I became a journalist because I saw – during the civil rights era and other events that changed American history and culture – the power the power of the media to tell the stories of people who otherwise had no voice. I’ve had a chance to see history unfold and to tell many of the stories alongside some of the best in the business.
"I began my first reporting job in May 1978 at my hometown newspaper when newsrooms were becoming computerized. Who among us could have foreseen the changes and challenges that have occurred in the years since? I came to the AP at a time when I was questioning whether I wanted to continue a profession in journalism. The AP and the amazing people who staff this amazing news organization helped to rekindle my fire for journalism and it continues to this day. I’ve had the chance to dream, try, and experience new things. I’ve been mentored and coached by some especially inspiring people. In turn, I’ve had the chance to recruit, mentor, and coach some people who are helping AP and other news organizations rise to the immense challenges that face the news industry.
"No doubt I’ve left someone off of this email I should have included. My apologies for that. I’ve already heard from many of you and your thoughts and well wishes mean much more than you can imagine. All of you can expect to hear from me in the future as I explore new ventures and opportunities. It’s been a great honor and pleasure being among the best and working with all of you. "
Naylor's brief bio on his Facebook page reads, "Director of Career Development/News · Sep 1987 to present · New York City Leadership and management training and coaching for editorial managers; recruitment; newsroom diversity.
"I was AP’s Director of Editorial Planning (based in New York) from June 2001 until September 2003. I was AP's Chief of Bureau for Upstate New York (based in Albany) from December 1998 until June 2001 and Chief of Bureau for Mississippi (based in Jackson) from February 1994 until December 1998. I was a Washington-based reporter from April 1990 until February 1994, covering consumer affairs, labor and the 1992 presidential campaign. Prior to that, I was a state government reporter in AP's Jackson, Mississippi bureau from September 1987 until April 1990."
The National Association of Black Journalists released this statement Friday:
"Today, the Associated Press laid off longtime NABJ member and diversity advocate Robert Naylor after 24 years of service. Naylor becomes the third African American manager at the company to be terminated in the last two weeks. This news comes one day after the AP reinstated its internship program, a historically critical pipeline for reporters and editors of color in the company, following a one-year hiatus.
" 'As I stated in my letter to the industry on January 6, the relentless attack on newsroom diversity continues to arise under the guise of a failing economy,' NABJ President Gregory Lee said. "I will be reaching out to Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley and executive editor Kathleen Carroll in hopes of finding some common ground on diversity issues in the company's news division.' NABJ extends its best wishes to Mr. Naylor and salutes him for championing the cause of diversity during his career."
Michelle Morgante, assistant Florida bureau chief and Caribbean business manager at the Associated Press, was not among those laid off at the news cooperative, as reported in this space last month, Paul Colford, spokesman for the AP, told Journal-isms by email on Friday.
Instead, "She's joined AP's iCircular team," he said, described by Mobile Marketing Watch as "a new service aimed at serving up coupons within mobile apps developed by participating newspapers around the country."
Colford did not elaborate on her duties, or say whether this is a temporary or permanent job.
Morgante wrote in her LinkedIn profile that she has been in the bureau since 2005. "I represent The Associated Press for Florida and the Caribbean, helping our members make the most of their AP relationship, and working with clients in the Caribbean to put AP content to work for them in print or digital publications, broadcast reports, publishing projects and as a resource for companies and academic institutions," she wrote.
Morgante had been an AP correspondent in Mexico for five years, and before that, an editor on the AP's International Desk.
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"Cable news networks have lined up coverage as the GOP race heads west to the Nevada caucuses on Saturday," Andrea Morabito wrote Friday for Broadcasting & Cable.
"Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and John King will anchor coverage from CNN's Election Center beginning at 7 p.m. ET following The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer. Don Lemon will anchor a live edition of CNN Newsroom at 11 p.m.
"On MSNBC, Hardball host Chris Matthews will lead live coverage of the results from 8-10:30 p.m. ET with Chuck Todd, NBC News chief White House correspondent and political director. MSNBC contributor Michael Smerconish will lead coverage before that from 6-8 p.m.
"Bret Baier will be at the desk for Fox News with a one-hour live special at 10 p.m. ET and cut-ins during the net's regular Saturday primetime programming before that."
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"The Committee said that the nearly five-year prison sentence imposed on Alexander Adonis of Bombo Radyo in Davao City was 'incompatible' with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to the official text of the UNHRC decision.
"The case stemmed from a 2001 broadcast in which Adonis reported on an alleged affair between a Philippine congressman, then-Speaker of the House Prospero Nograles, and a married woman.
". . . IPI will announce in the coming months a major campaign to abolish criminal defamation laws in the Caribbean. The campaign will seek to highlight the ways in which such laws can be abused by prominent figures to squelch critical coverage in order to protect their economic interest and maintain power."
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"Funeral services for Libby Clark, the Grande Dame of the Black press, were held Monday in the Chapel of Roses at the Simpson Funeral Home in Inglewood. Clark, believed to have been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, died in her sleep on Jan. 23. She was 94 years old.
". . . In 1949, Clark set her sights on returning to 'mainstream journalism' and applied for a reporting job with the Los Angeles Times. 'I went there five times trying to get a job, and they laughed at me; they treated me like a joke,' Clark said. 'Finally, The Times’ food editor told me to stop trying to work for the Times because they were never going to hire me regardless of my qualifications or experience. I was devastated.'
". . . Almost 60 years ago, Clark founded 'Femme,' a magazine devoted to Black women and their families, and 30 years later she began publishing the valuable 'Plum Book,' which was a listing of key individuals, organizations and institutions in the Black community — a guide so Black people could find each other, as it were. She was the author/editor of the 'Black Family Reunion Cookbook,' which remained on the nation’s bestseller list for several months in 1991. It was commissioned by the National Council of Negro Women, through which more than 250,000 copies were sold. And, in 1969 Clark became the first African-American public information officer hired by the county of Los Angeles to serve as such for the new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in 1969.
"Clark did all of these things while still churning out newspaper copy as a food editor, feature writer and syndicated columnist with works appearing in 150 newspapers around country, including the Los Angeles Sentinel, from which she retired less than 10 years ago."
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