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Unity Invites Gay Journalists Group to Join

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Updated August 28

Move Comes Amid Efforts to Reunite NABJ With Partners

Two Chauncey Bailey Killers Each Sentenced to Life

More Latinos in College Than Blacks, but With a Caveat

Washington Post starts black-oriented section online

TV news directors of color at third-highest level ever

Dee Dee Thomas named executive producer at NBC News

ESPN Creates Buzz With White "Michael Vick"

In '50s, Martin Luther King Wrote Advice Column

Short Takes

Members line up to see candidate Barack Obama at the 2008 Unity convention in Chicago. Unity voted against including the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association in 1994 and 1998. (Credit: Jennifer Dronkers/Unity News)

Move Comes Amid Efforts to Reunite NABJ With Partners

Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc. has invited the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association to join the coalition, reversing its position that the alliance would include only the "journalists of color" groups, NLGJA said on Friday.

The invitation was taken in the absence of the National Association of Black Journalists, which withdrew from the coalition in March, and raises questions about how an inclusion of NLGJA would affect efforts to reunite NABJ with Unity.

"I would speak to my membership about this," Gregory Lee Jr., president of NABJ, told Journal-isms. "That would be something that would come up" in the talks about reuniting.

Lee preceded that statement by saying, "It's good that Unity has reached out to that organization. I wish Unity well in 2012, and we look forward to going to New Orleans" in 2012 for NABJ's own convention.

David A. Steinberg, president of NLGJA, confirmed a report by Fenit Nirappil, Camille Beredjick and Nic Koppert in Connect, the student project at the NLGJA convention in Philadelphia, that Unity, now an alliance of Hispanic, Asian American and Native American journalist associations, formally asked the NLGJA to join its ranks.

"I spoke with Joanna Hernandez, Unity president about a week or 10 days ago and she told me the Unity partners wanted us to join," Steinberg said by email.

[Hernandez said by email on Saturday, "UNITY continues to move forward in serving our mission of diversity in journalism and, yes, we are in discussions with NLGJA about them joining us. Nothing has been decided yet by either side. NLGJA and UNITY are exchanging information and hope to have decisions made within a few weeks."

[She added on Sunday: "No decisions have been made yet by NLGJA or UNITY, and no vote has been taken by the UNITY Board, although we are striving to vote on this matter soon. And we are always talking to journalism organizations about how we can work together on diversity. When we found out NLGJA had not selected a 2012 convention site, we felt now was the right time to start brainstorming because our 2012 convention is going to be such an important gathering for all journalists in the country."]

The Connect story quoted Steinberg as saying, "The missions of Unity and the NLGJA are completely overlapping. We are both in favor of media diversity in a shrinking media market."

"The announcement came after confusion over why details of NLGJA’s 2012 convention plans had not been released. The Board of Directors will decide in the next few weeks whether to accept the Unity invitation after weighing the financial and programmatic benefits of joining," the story continued.

"If the NLGJA joins Unity, the national convention will be replaced by the joint conference of Unity organizations in Las Vegas in August 2012.

"After Unity voted against including NLGJA in 1994 and 1998, NLGJA did not actively lobby to join this year. Organization leaders had previously debated whether the predominantly-white NLGJA complemented the other minority organizations in Unity. In 1998, [the] full name was changed to include Journalists of Color.

" 'Michael Tune (NLGJA’s executive director) jokes there’s nothing more colorful than a rainbow,' Steinberg said.

"Still, NLGJA is discussing whether a full membership in Unity would bring a name change to the organization."

At a business meeting that stretched for nearly three hours at NABJ's own Philadelphia convention, members voted Aug. 5 to "seek reunification with Unity: Journalists of Color as soon as is feasible," but "based on conditions involving the financial and governance structure of Unity that do not conflict with the best interests of NABJ."

The NABJ board voted to withdraw from Unity because "as a business model, UNITY no longer is the most financially prudent for NABJ and its membership."

Tune told Journal-isms on Thursday that more than 350 were attending the NLGJA conference. CNN anchor Don Lemon and NBC "Today" show co-anchor Ann Curry were among the scheduled speakers. NABJ has not released the number of attendees at its conference.

Errol Cooley, brother of slain journalist Chauncey Bailey, speaks to the news media after Friday's sentencing of Yusef Bey IV and Antoine Mackey in Oakland, Calif. (Credit: Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

Two Chauncey Bailey Killers Each Sentenced to Life

"Former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusef Bey IV was sentenced Friday to three consecutive life terms in prison, and bakery associate Antoine Mackey to two, for their roles in the 2007 murders of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey and two other men," Josh Richman, Thomas Peele and Bob Butler wrote Friday for the Chauncey Bailey Project.

" 'Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Chauncey's life would end because of a story,' Robin Hardin-Bailey, Bailey's ex-wife, told the court during the sentencing hearing.

". . .  'I forgive you because the Chauncey Bailey I knew, the Chauncey Bailey who came here to right the wrongs, to tell the stories of people who had no voice, I believe that he would forgive you too,' she said.

"Bey IV ordered the murder of Bailey to stop the journalist from writing a story about strife at the bakery. A jury also found Bey IV had ordered Mackey to kill Michael Wills, a sous chef on a walk to the corner store, only because he was white, and had ordered bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard to kill homeless man Odell Roberson in a personal vendetta.

"Bey IV and Mackey, both 25, were convicted in June. Broussard, 23, confessed to the murders and testified against Bey IV and Mackey in return for a 25-year prison term; he was sentenced Aug. 12."

More Latinos in College Than Blacks, but With a Caveat

"After all the bad news about Latino academic achievement, here’s a ray of hope: College enrollment among Latinos ages 18 to 24 sky-rocketed 24% last year, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center, leading to an all-time high in the total numbers of Latino college students," Fox News Latino reported Thursday.

"Young Hispanics for the first time outnumbered young blacks on campus, even though young black college enrollment has also grown steadily for decades," the Pew report said.

However, as Fox News Latino noted, "Much of the growth in Latino enrollment has been through community colleges. Last fall, 56% of Latino students were enrolled at four-year institutions, proportionally less than Asian (78%), white (73%), and black (63%) students."

It is unclear whether the surge in Latino enrollment translates into an increase in Latino journalism students.

Digest of Education Statistics figures from the 2008-09 school year, the last year for which such figures are available, show that of 78,009 bachelor's degrees in communications, journalism and related programs, 59,112 went to whites, 7,666 to blacks, 5,677 to Hispanics, 3,565 to Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, 472 to American Indians and Alaska Natives and 1,547 to nonresident aliens.

For master's degrees in the same field, of 7,092 granted, 4,408 were awarded whites, 798 to blacks, 413 to Hispanics, 351 to Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, 57 to American Indians/Alaska Natives and 1,085 to nonresident aliens.

The Pew figures are from 2010 census data.

Writing on her Latina Lista blog, Marisa Treviño said it was understandable that so many Latinos were in community colleges rather than four-year institutions because "With so many Latino families middle to low-income, community college is the only affordable option."

She added, "The report went on to explain that while it's true more Latino students understand the value of higher education and want it and so are enrolling at higher rates, they're not finishing at those same rates.

"ACT released their findings recently on the college readiness skills of Latino students and found that more Latino students were taking the ACT. Though more were taking the specialized tests, more were not passing them.

"Could this disparity, found with both the ACT and in the Pew report, be because Latino students aren't receiving the proper high school instruction they desperately need to succeed in college?"

TheRootDC.com features both aggregated and original content.

Washington Post Starts Black-Oriented Section Online

The Washington Post Thursday unveiled a local-news website section devoted to African American news, a concept few mainstream newspapers have attempted since the New York Times met opposition from the black press when it attempted to start a "black" newspaper in Gainesville, Fla., in 2005.

The Gainesville paper let its editor go and redefined the product as a "community" outlet.

Since then, however, white-owned media have started a number of Internet projects targeting the black community nationally and Latino communities both nationally and locally.

"The Root DC will serve as a must-read source of content from a black perspective with features including daily updated event listings, profiles of people around the region, video stories, and reader essays about things or people that bind, uplift, and annoy the community," an announcement said. The Post Co. already owns theRoot.com, an African American-oriented site with a national focus.

"By creating The Root DC, we are able to expand on The Post’s local coverage by providing the African-American community with more of the content it is looking for in a way that makes it easy to access news, share information, and engage online," Liz Spayd, a Post managing editor, said in the release.

"The Root DC includes aggregated content from The Washington Post and original reporting by Robert Pierre, Editor of The Root DC, who will write a weekly column; Hamil Harris, who will focus on faith and religion; Chris Jenkins, staff writer; and other Post reporters and contributors.

"Readers also can find The Root DC on B2 of the newspaper’s Metro section each Friday."

In a note to readers, Pierre wrote, "It’s a new space that’s all about acknowledgement and conversation, a place to laugh and cry and argue. Oh, and did I mention, to see yourself. This site is meant, in part, to address one of the most persistent criticisms of journalism that I have heard over the past two decades: it doesn’t focus on what matters to you."

TV News Directors of Color at Third-Highest Level Ever

"The latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey finds that the percentage of minorities rose in both television and radio [PDF]. The percentage of minority news directors in television hit its third highest level ever and is the highest ever at non-Hispanic stations," Bob Papper reported this week in his latest survey for the Radio-Television Digital News Association.

"On the flip side, most of the gains were small, and the percentage of minorities in TV news remained at the low end of the narrow band within which the percentages have floated for the last decade.

"There was no good news for women in radio and television news. Women in TV news and women TV news directors stayed largely the same -- each had a slight dip -- and women in radio news and women radio news directors both fell noticeably.

"As far as minorities are concerned, the bigger picture remains unchanged. In the last 21 years, the minority population in the U.S. has risen 9.5 percent; but the minority workforce in TV news is up 2.7 percent, and the minority workforce in radio is actually down from what it was two decades ago. Still, TV news diversity remains far ahead of newspaper[s]."

Dee Dee Thomas Named Executive Producer at NBC News

Dee Dee Thomas has been named executive producer of the weekend editions of "Today," NBC News announced on Thursday.

She is the first African American woman to hold an executive producer position at NBC since Dee Dee ThomasLyne Pitts held the same position in 2006. Pitts went on to become a network vice president before leaving NBC in 2009.

The announcement about Thomas "was made by 'Today' executive producer Jim Bell and is effective September 6. Most recently, Thomas served as senior producer of 'Today,' where she oversaw the 8 a.m. hour of the top-rated morning news program," the announcement said.

". . . In her new role, Thomas will oversee all aspects of 'Weekend Today,' working closely with the broadcast’s anchors Lester Holt, Amy Robach and Jenna Wolfe and the show’s team of talented producers.

"As senior producer at 'Today,' Thomas was responsible for the planning and execution of several special broadcasts including the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with Matt Lauer and Al Roker reporting live from New Orleans."

Photo illustration imagines a white Michael Vick. (Credit: D'arcy Hyde for ESPN The Magazine)

ESPN Creates Buzz With White "Michael Vick"

"The latest ESPN The Magazine focusing exclusively on Michael Vick is causing a stir for an illustration of a racially altered version of the Eagles quarterback with the headline, 'What If Michael Vick Were White?' " Sportsjournalism.org reported.

"The article’s author, Touré, claims he asked the magazine not to use the photo illustration or headline.

"Touré says they undermine his premise that Vick’s story is not possible without the circumstances (race, class, community, family) that have contributed to his identity."

In '50s, Martin Luther King Wrote Advice Column

“ 'There can be unity where there is not uniformity.'

"That’s the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.," Anna Holmes wrote Thursday for the Washington Post. "It’s a powerful sentiment — and an instructive one, especially in this era of hyperpartisanship — but you won’t find it anywhere on the 450-foot inscription wall that makes up part of the MLK National Memorial. Actually, you won’t find it in most tributes to the late civil rights leader, because he wrote it in June 1958 to a concerned churchgoer as part of a magazine advice column.

"That magazine was Ebony, and, for a little over a year between 1957 and 1958, the black-owned monthly published a King-penned series called 'Advice for Living.' At the time, King was just starting to come to international prominence: In February 1957, he made his first appearance on the cover of Time, thanks to his leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott. He had already appeared in Ebony numerous times when the magazine’s editors, inspired — and overwhelmed — by the volume of mail addressed to King, asked him to pen an advice column. 'Let the man that led the Montgomery boycott lead you into happier living,' read an advertisement in Ebony’s sister publication, Jet. . . ."

Short Takes

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Comments

UNITY invites gay journalists to join

NABJ is not part of UNITY any longer, so UNITY is free to invite anyone they want to.   It has been pointed out NABJ does not need UNITY to maintain lines of communication with other groups representing journalists of color.  Just as NABJ left because staying was no longer in the organization's best interests, inviting another group to replace NABJ apparently is UNITY's way of looking out for theirs.

 That does not mean this will be universally well received. 

I recall at the first UNITY convention in Atlanta there was a White guy with gray hair cornering anyone who would give him a moment of their time to speak about why gay journalists should be allowed to be part of the partnership.  That was the late Leroy Aarons, the founder of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA).

Aarons was unsuccessful in his efforts to get NLGJA included in UNITY, but with NABJ's exit apparently his aspirations have now been realized.   It is worth noting  Aaron also worked with Robert Maynard in the formation of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.  From the NLGJA website:

In the late 1970s, he had co-founded with Maynard the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, a center dedicated to encouraging more people of color to enter journalism, so he viewed the NLGJA as an extension of that work.

"The NLGJA did for gays and lesbians what (Maynard was) doing for people of color," Aarons said in the October 2004 interview. "It was the same mission."

For those who have maintained the separation from UNITY was a long time come and the differences were based on philosophy and mission as much as economics, inviting NLGJA to a seat at the table will doubtlessly add fuel to their fire.   It is a valid argument to make that while White gay and lesbian journalists face discrimination, they are not subject to the same sort of discrimination that people of color do.

I fear this move by UNITY will serve to only further deepen the differences with NABJ.

However, I do wonder what NABJ's lesbian and gay members think of this development.  Their insights would prove valuable as NABJ ponders the pros and cons of reunification and whether orientation carries the same gravitas as race.

Gays matter

Unity is the key!

Mike Vick in whiteface

That Vick image may someday rate in outrageousness with the '60s Esquire cover of Sonny Liston in a Santa Claus suit. http://www.georgelois.com/pages/Esquire/Esq.sonny.santa.html

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