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NABJ Pulls Out of Unity Coalition

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Financial Arrangement Cited; Separate Convention Planned

Members line up to see candidate Barack Obama at the 2008 Unity convention in Chicago. The conventions, scheduled for presidential election years since 2004, have striven to present the appearance of equality among the four partner organizations. (Credit: Jennifer Dronkers/Unity News)

Financial Arrangement Cited; Separate Convention Planned

The National Association of Black Journalists voted Sunday to withdraw from Unity: Journalists of Color, the coalition of the journalist-of-color associations, because "as a business model, UNITY no longer is the most financially prudent for NABJ and its membership," the association announced.

The vote diminishes what was a pioneering coalition of African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans when the first Unity convention was staged in 1994 in Atlanta, overcoming cultural differences to present a united front in the quest for diversity in the news business.

The decision took place three days after the American Society of News editors reported that its annual survey showed the percentage of journalists of color had declined for the third consecutive year.

The NABJ board, meeting in Philadelphia as it plans its summer convention there, issued a three-paragraph announcement saying it will hold its own convention in 2012:

Kathy Y. Times

"After careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation, the National Association of Black Journalists, Inc. (NABJ), a founding organization of UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc., voted today to discontinue its participation in UNITY.

"While NABJ remains committed to the coalition's mission of achieving parity in newsroom employment and accurate coverage of people of color, NABJ board members concluded that as a business model, UNITY no longer is the most financially prudent for NABJ and its membership. NABJ, with the support of members of the Founders' Task Force and Council of Presidents, will withdraw from UNITY and its 2012 convention. NABJ will hold its own convention in 2012.

"As the largest organization of journalists of color, NABJ remains vigilantly committed to the common ideals for which UNITY was founded, and further, remains allied with each UNITY partner in its individual mission of achieving these goals."

NABJ President Kathy Y. Times told Journal-isms that only one board member, Parliamentarian Tonju Francois of CNN, voted against the pullout, though not all members were present and some voted by proxy. The vote was 12 to 1.

The decision contrasted with thoughts from NABJ's own representatives on the Unity board. Journal-isms was told privately that two wanted NABJ to stay through 2012, one would not give an opinion and one wanted to "explore every option." Other versions vary slightly, but all agree that no NABJ representative on the Unity board urged a pullout.

Times said the board was reviewing numerous proposals for a 2012 convention site.

"It was a board decision, it really was," Times said. "As president, I gave them the information." The president does not have a vote.

The board had been discussing leaving Unity since December, she said.

"This is really something we have really talked a lot about. There wasn't really any evidence that time would have led to a different result. It wasn't fair to Unity to drag out this process, or to NABJ. We had hoped to have this issue resolved by March at the latest."

Treasurer Gregory Lee Jr. told Journal-isms separately, "It was a tough decision. We have 20 years in this alliance. It was a business decision. We did our homework and we needed to make a decision. We were running out of time." Just as technology has changed business models in newsrooms, so that of Unity had to change, he said.

Times and Lee both said NABJ would continue to work with the individual Unity partners: the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. "We believe in the mission of Unity," Lee said.

Times said she notified Joanna Hernandez, president of Unity: Journalists of Color, who expressed sadness. "

["Although the NABJ board has made this decision, we will never shut the door nor turn our backs on our friends and colleagues," Hernandez said in a statement.]

NABJ members, discussing the decision on the NABJ e-mail list and in other social media, had varying reactions, with many looking ahead to possible 2012 convention sites. One suggestion was that NABJ hold its convention in Las Vegas along with Unity's to help salvage the hotel rooms that Unity was counting on.

Robin Washington, one of four NABJ representatives on the Unity board, told Journal-isms he found this idea "a healthful and thoughtful suggestion in the spirit of what we should all be considering right now."  

The Unity convention is the nation's largest assemblage of journalists, drawing 7,550 attendees by the final Sunday of its 2008 gathering. Predominantly white organizations such as the Society for Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association, by contrast, draw only in the hundreds. SPJ and RTDNA plan a joint convention in September in New Orleans.

At a 1988 Baltimore meeting of the boards of the four organizations that eventually held the first Unity convention in 1994, a special effort was made to present each group equally, extending even to the seating arrangements at the table.

However, NABJ has pointed out that NABJ represented 53.32 percent of the Unity convention attendance in 2008, with AAJA at 20.4 percent, NAHJ at 22.66 percent and NAJA at 3.61 percent, according to NABJ figures.

"If there was an issue which put me over the top, it was a report from the Executive Director on projections from Philadelphia Convention revenues,"  NABJ board member Charles Robinson III wrote to members.

"Our projections (in a stand alone year) will far exceed what we will receive in the projections from the upcoming UNITY Convention in 2012. This means a shortfall in NABJ revenue during the UNITY conference. We have no way to make up the revenue shortfall (there has been some discussion, but more resistance from UNITY).  If there is a shortfall of this nature, we are talking about laying off one maybe two people. We can’t allow this to happen with year round programming that you demand." (Full statement in "Comments" section below.)

The board of Unity: Journalists of Color, an organization formed in 1998 as an outgrowth of the umbrella group that staged the 1994 convention, met last month for the first time since NABJ raised the possibility of pulling out of the 2012 meeting. It made concessions to NABJ, even bringing in longtime diversity facilitator Ronald B. Brown, founder and president of Banks Brown, a management consulting firm in San Francisco, to help the board members work through their differences.

NABJ, the largest of the four associations in the coalition, maintained that Unity had grown beyond its original mission and shortchanged NABJ. With the recession forcing reexaminations of bottom lines, NABJ had submitted several proposals to reorder the way the convention proceeds are divided. But it was outvoted at a conference-call meeting March 12, with none of the other partners supporting NABJ.

Underlying the NABJ disaffection, board members have said, was a feeling that the other associations were aligned against it.

Deirdre Childress, NABJ's vice president/print and like Lee and Robinson an NABJ presidential candidate, told members on Sunday, "I attended all four UNITY conventions and they are some of my best memories, but there is also a history, through those years, of a lack of information regarding our finances. This time, we waited and waited and we were patient through this process, but they never really 'heard' us.

"There were no serious concessions made and, in the end, I could not trust that we would ever again be able to gain a consensus on ideas and goals proposed by NABJ. I went to the last UNITY meeting and did my own research. I saw a failure to respect us and to be transparent by providing our financial statements in a timely manner. I am, however, confident that NABJ can still work with the folks from the alliance partners who care about the goals of diversity in newsrooms and coverage of communities of color."

In a report after the Unity board meeting, Times told members, "All four journalism organizations that make up this alliance have the same number of representatives and votes on the board of directors.

"As the largest partner, NABJ wants a voice that reflects its membership and convention attendance, which consistently accounts for more than half of the convention registrants. UNITY's president appointed a committee composed of alliance presidents to draft proposals, and an April 30th deadline was set for the board to review and approve a voting model."

The Unity board voted for a resolution asserting that "the alliance partners should have a fair, equitable representation at the table," and thus "the Governance Committee made up of the four alliance presidents will review and recommend a revised process to represent the alliance partners in decision making, with the UNITY board of directors to approve by April 30, 2011."

However, the concessions made at the Unity meeting were not enough to persuade the NABJ board members, who except for Times are not on the Unity board.

NABJ already had in hand a March 20 resolution from its founders and council of chapter presidents that, "should the NABJ Board of Directors vote to have its association withdraw from Unity: Journalists of Color, it will do so with the full support of the organization's founders, past presidents and chapter leaders."

Moreover, the Unity board's "equitable representation" resolution was not unanimous. NAHJ President Michele Salcedo voted against the resolution on behalf of herself and, by proxy, NAHJ member Cecilia Alvear, saying the resolution should include the words "as necessary" after "recommend a revised process."

Times responded, "If you don't do it, why even bother?"

ASNE Pledges More Diversity Efforts

April 8, 2011

CEOs to Teach Editors About Reaching "the New America"

Malcolm X Assassination Left Alex Haley Scrambling

Univision Anchor Praised for Switch to Tough Questions

Obama's Approval Rating Slips Among Blacks, Hispanics

Libyans Hold Four More International Journalists

Climate Change Underreported in Japan Quake Coverage

March Madness Ratings Boosted in Bars, Restaurants

150 Years Later, Survey Finds Civil War Still Divisive

Short Takes

Ronnie Agnew, who co-chairs the Diversity Committee of the American Society of News Editors, says, "ASNE will be a leader at keeping diversity at the forefront of this journalistic transformation." (Credit:

CEOs to Teach Editors About Reaching "the New America"

Ken Paulson: 'Newsroom diversity remains a core ASNE value' (Credit: that it has revealed that the number of journalists of color in daily newspaper and online-only newsrooms declined for the third consecutive year, the American Society of News Editors plans to enlist non-media companies to brief news executives on appealing to an increasingly brown America.

"ASNE will be a leader at keeping diversity at the forefront of this journalistic transformation," Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and co-chairman of ASNE's Diversity Committee, told Journal-isms via email.

The ASNE's annual survey showed that the number of journalists of color declined from 5,500 to 5,300, contrasting with the news industry's stated goal of parity with the number of people of color in the general population by 2025.

The percentage of minorities in newsrooms totaled 12.79 percent, a decline of .47 of a percentage point from a year ago. The percentage of nonwhites in the general population is 36 percent, ASNE noted.

In two months, Agnew said, "we plan to hold diversity sessions at NAHJ on hiring and retention," referring to the June 15-18 convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Orlando, Fla.

ASNE had already announced two working sessions on diversity in the news business — one in conjunction with the annual convention now taking place in San Diego, sessions that have since been postponed ("We felt we needed more time to get on the calendars of CEOs and decision-makers. We don't want to rush this. It's too important," Agnew said) — and another concurrent with the NAHJ convention.

The sessions, entitled "Leadership in Diversity: New Models for Growing Audience, Talent and Revenues," involve "more than 100 top news, digital and business executives, and selected non-news executives whose companies have executed successful efforts to reach communities of color," ASNE announced in March. The workshops are being coordinated by Walt Swanston, a veteran of newsroom diversity efforts.

In addition to the NAHJ convention sessions, Agnew told Journal-isms on Friday, "In September we're planning to hold sessions in New York tentatively titled: The Business Case for Diversity. Regarding the latter, we hope to attract CEOs and/or decision makers from companies to talk about the new America. We also plan to invite non-media companies that have had success attracting diverse customer bases. ASNE will be a leader at keeping diversity at the forefront of this journalistic transformation."

Meanwhile, Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer of the  First Amendment Center and incoming president of ASNE, pledged to continue the annual ASNE diversity survey, begun in 1978.

A contract with Bobbi Bowman, who has conducted the survey for years as director of diversity and then as a diversity consultant, expires this year.

"Newsroom diversity remains a core ASNE value and we'll continue to conduct the annual survey," Paulson said by email.

Agnew added: "The diversity committee met this morning and was unanimous about the importance of continuing the census, which started in 1978. The issue we're still considering is finding the most effective way of continuing this valuable system of accountability. One of the big ideas under consideration is finding a partner or contracting with an outside source to assist us. To say that we have made a final decision as to what venue we will take would be premature.

"We will discuss the census at tomorrow's board meeting to ensure the board is fully involved and to use the board as a resource for ideas. We hope to have a final decision and bring this to closure within the next few weeks. . . . The census is one of our most important initiatives."

According to a March news release, while the diversity sessions "are being convened by ASNE, partners in the planning process are the leaders of several newspapers and news organizations, including the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Newspaper Association of America, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Unity: Journalists of Color, and [its] member associations."

Journalist Alex Haley, left, hustled to publish "the Autobiography of Malcolm X" after the assassination of Malcolm, who is at right.

Malcolm X Assassination Left Alex Haley Scrambling

News of the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X quickly found journalist Alex Haley, the collaborator on Malcolm's famed autobiography, turning to financial concerns, according to Manning Marable's new "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

"The terrible news of Malcolm's murder quickly reached Alex Haley at his home in upstate New York. Less than two hours later, his grief was pushed aside by practical considerations," Marable wrote on page 446. "Haley typed a letter to Paul Reynolds," his agent, "fearing their lucrative deal might now be in jeopardy. 'None of us would have had it be this way,' Haley wrote, 'but since this book represent's [sic] Malcolm's sole financial legacy to his widow and four little daughters . . . I'm just glad that it's ready for the press now at a peak of interest for what will be international large sales, and paperback, and all.' He also advised Reynolds that Doubleday should be alerted to a potential financial problem.

" 'I am almost certain that within the next two or three days Malcolm's widow, Sister Betty will contact me asking for some advance money from Doubleday or some other would be possible for her, to tide her through the immediate weeks. She hasn't a home since last week they moved in the middle of the night, just ahead of the next day's legal eviction to return the honor to the Muslims. And Malcolm, talking with me yesterday, said that he had 'two or three hundred dollars,' which would be the total extent of Sister Betty's funds.'

"A few days later, Haley had another thought. Again writing to Reynolds, he suggested, 'Maybe some magazine might wish to pay well enough for a probing interview of Elijah Muhammad. I could accomplish this.' Haley proposed something along the lines of his earlier personal interviews with Malcolm and Martin Luther King, Jr., featured in Playboy . . . Nothing came of these overtures, and Haley and Reynolds's fears were fully justified. Within two weeks, in a terribly shortsighted move, Doubleday's owner, Nelson Doubleday, abruptly canceled the contract."

Marable continues in a later chapter, "After Doubleday's cancellation of the book, Paul Reynolds had shopped the manuscript to other publications, eventually securing a contract for Haley with the radical Grove Press. The reviews of the narrative of Malcolm's life were overwhelmingly positive . . . ."

In a 2007 interview with Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!", Marable said "Haley had an entirely different agenda" from Malcolm. "He was a Republican. He despised Malcolm X’s black nationalist creed. But he was a journalist, and he understood the power of charisma."

A May 2010 "Journal-isms" column reporting accusations that William Bradley was the triggerman in the assassination, but never charged with that crime, is cited on page 476. The wrong page is listed in the index, however, and this columnist is called an "investigative reporter."

In a discussion with this columnist and fellow Morgan State University professor Jared Ball on Washington's WPFW-FM, Todd Steven Burroughs said the book seemed to have been written by committee, lacked sufficient primary research and appeared to be rushed toward completion as Marable succumbed to illness. He died at 60 on April 1, three days before the book was published.

Jorge Ramos and President Obama at the Univision Education Town Hall on March 28. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)

Univision Anchor Praised for Switch to Tough Questions

"More and more Latinos are wising up to President Obama's phony immigration two-step," Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post Writers Group.

"They include Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who was until recently the administration's favorite Latino journalist. Ramos earned the honor by gushing over Obama during the 2008 election run.

"Now, Ramos probably won't be landing any more exclusive interviews or getting any more invitations to state dinners. What did Ramos do to end up in the doghouse with the White House? Answer: Journalism.

"The newsman asked Obama some tough questions about his immigration policy that the president couldn't answer.

"Bravo. Obama needs more scrutiny. Left-leaning Latino advocacy groups — the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, et al. — have a three-pronged strategy: 'See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.'

". . . it's no wonder that Obama is left with this rhetorical hash and words that don't match his actions.

"Just like it's no wonder that Obama seemed to get caught in a lie about whether illegal immigrant students who would be covered by the Dream Act are being rounded up and deported. Not until Ramos presented him with hard evidence to the contrary did he shift gears and talk about how it's his job as president to 'enforce the law.' . . ."

Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC, left, was among those honored by the Rev. Al Sharpton, second from left, and the National Action Network at NAN's 13th Annual Keepers of the Dream Awards in New York on Wednesday. Griffin was recognized for the memorandum of understanding that NBC and Comcast signed to increase diversity as they successfully sought approval of the Comcast takeover of NBCUniversal. With them are Rachel Noerdlinger of Reverend Al Sharpton Media and Harold Ford Jr., NBC News political analyst. President Obama spoke to the group.

Obama's Approval Rating Slips Among Blacks, Hispanics

"Though majorities of blacks (85%) and Hispanics (54%) continue to approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, his ratings among these groups slipped in March and have set or tied new lows, the Gallup Organization reported on Thursday. "His approval rating among whites, at 39%, remains above where it was in the latter part of 2010.

"These results are based on aggregated data from Gallup Daily tracking in March, including more than 15,000 interviews with U.S. adults. Overall, Obama averaged 47% approval in March, three percentage points above his term low from August 2010.

"Obama, elected to office with strong support from minority voters, has averaged better than 90% approval among blacks, and 65% among Hispanics, during his term. Prior to March, Obama's lowest monthly average among blacks was 88% in July 2010 and December 2010. The president's 54% March job approval rating among Hispanics ties the low from July and August 2010.

"Even with the decline in blacks' ratings of Obama, blacks remain the most likely to approve of him among key attitudinal or demographic subgroups. Democrats (80%) and self-identified liberals (74%) are next. Republicans show the lowest level of support by a wide margin, at 14%."

Libyans Hold Four More International Journalists

"Forces loyal to Libyan leader [Moammar Gaddafi] have detained four international journalists on the outskirts of the city of Brega, news reports said today, continuing the government's pattern of arbitrary detentions and other restrictions, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Thursday. The committee "called on authorities to stop detaining, expelling, and obstructing journalists reporting on the Libyan conflict.

"Photographers Manuel Varela, Anton Hammerl, James Foley, and reporter Clare Morgana Gillis were detained on Tuesday, the Global Post reported. Witnesses said the four journalists came under fire while traveling in a van near the north-central city, forcing them to stop, the Global Post said, citing information from Human Rights Watch. Pro-[Gaddafi] forces detained the four journalists while releasing their driver, the Global Post and others said.

"CPJ research shows that Hammerl, who is South African, works for The Christian Science Monitor; Varela, who is Spanish, is a freelance photographer on contract with the European Pressphoto Agency; Foley, who is American, works for the Global Post; and Morgana Gillis, an American, is a freelancer for The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic, and USA Today."

Meanwhile, rescuers searched for scores of migrants from North Africa missing in the Mediterranean after their boat capsized off the south Italian island of Lampedusa, the BBC reported.

The Coast Guard said those on the boat were mostly Eritreans and Somalis, but according to the International Organisation of Migration, the migrants and asylum-seekers came from Bangladesh, Chad, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.

Phillip Martin produced a series on the plight of such African migrants to Europe for Public Radio International's "The World."

Climate Change Underreported in Japan Quake Coverage

"When I was a young journalist working as the environment editor for a Thai newspaper back in the 1990s, one of the first things I learned was this: In order to cover the environment, you have to understand the energy sector — not just what it emits, but the politics, economics, and technical issues surrounding it," James Fahn wrote Tuesday for Columbia Journalism Review. "And vice versa: Those reporting on energy development have to understand its environmental impacts to provide good coverage.

"The interlocking nature of these issues has again become tragically evident in recent weeks following the disaster in northeast Japan. The media coverage — including a proverbial renaissance of reporting on nuclear power — has generally reflected the comprehensive nature of these events in a compelling way, but much of it has failed to explain the full implications of climate change in the debate about what comes next."

University of Connecticut students celebrate their victory in the Final Four. (Video)

March Madness Ratings Boosted in Bars, Restaurants

"Having posted the strongest March Madness TV ratings since 2005, CBS and Turner Sports also experienced a major bounce among a fan base that can be somewhat difficult to pin down," Anthony Crupi reported Friday for Mediaweek.

"CBS' and Turner's joint coverage of the 2011 Men’s Division I Basketball Championship earned a significant lift from out-of-home viewing . . . All told, CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV saw a 15 percent boost from fans who watched the tourney in bars, restaurants, hotels and other common areas."

150 Years Later, Survey Finds Civil War Still Divisive

"As the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War approaches, most Americans say the war between the North and South is still relevant to American politics and public life today," Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Friday.

"More than half of Americans (56%) say the Civil War is still relevant, according to the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 30-April 3 among 1,507 adults. Nearly four-in-ten (39%) say the Civil War is important historically but has little current relevance.

"In a nation that has long endured deep racial divisions, the history of that era still elicits some strong reactions. Nearly half of the public (46%) says it is inappropriate for today's public officials to praise the leaders of the Confederate states during the war; 36% say such statements are appropriate.

". . . . There is no consensus among the public about the primary cause of the Civil War, but more (48%) say that the war was mainly about states' rights than say it was mainly about slavery (38%). Another 9% volunteer that it was about both equally.

". . . Only a small number of Americans say they display the Confederate flag, but that symbol of the Southern cause elicits more negative reactions from some groups — especially African Americans, Democrats and the highly educated. Nevertheless, most Americans say they do not react positively or negatively when they see the Confederate flag.

". . . There also are partisan differences in reactions to the flag: about twice as many Democrats (44%) as Republicans (21%) react negatively to displays of the Confederate flag. And Republicans are more likely than Democrats to have a positive reaction to the flag (15% vs. 7%)."

Short Takes

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NABJ pulls out of Unity

An unfortunate but appropriate decision by NABJ to pull out of Unity, in my opinion. I almost wrote "in my humble opinion" but my opinions are never humble; they are always strong. I support this move.


NABJ : Modern Example of Black Folks unable to cope

In the post racial era of the Obama tenure recent census findings paint  a future narrative where Black America is in a retreat mode. In the midst of this transformative junction in our nation's history for minority groups the challenge is to create vehicles and bridges that enhance our status while our status as  minority group is diminishing.

One of these vessels is partnerships and collaborations with other people of color to become a critical mass to engaged the white majority ruling class. The decison to withdraw from UNITY is a backward and foolish mistake.

People of color do not advance by subtraction. As a Black activist when I observed organizations like NABJ stumble it only makes my body of work more difficult. This aura of arrogance stings and wounds potential alliances..That is never a good omen for a future where Black Americans are now in retreat....

Statement from Charles Robinson III, NABJ board member

Statement from Charles Robinson III, NABJ board member:

Philadelphia, PA – Many of you have heard about NABJ’s decision to leave UNITY. This was a heart wrenching decision. I along with other members of the Board of Directors agonized over his decision for months. We made every attempt not be emotional but, rather, rational.

As a fiduciary officer of the organization, I think I have seen us at our lowest point and can now say, without equivocation; we are headed in the right direction. I want you to know I was happy to hear our Executive Director (ED)report during this Board of Directors (BOD) Meeting, in the first quarter of this year we have raised nearly $180,000. Much of this credit can be attributed to the ED, the implementation of cost controls, and the need and diversify our revenue streams.

I want to tell you the factors I took in making this decision as I weighed the pros and cons. I believe in the Unity concept, together we are better than as individuals. As NABJ Board Members, we have spoken up when things in media “didn’t pass the smell test.” We held those who we didn’t have relationships with and those we have had relationships with to rigorous standards. Diversity in media is not only important, it is “job one” when you serve NABJ members. This extends to any journalist of color. I will continue to insist, prod, and confront those who would like to put this issue on the backburner. Diversity advocacy can’t be a part-time job or a four year exercise.

After hearing from varied participants, we were happy to hear some of the ideas we put forth were being discussed. We learned the hard way what inaction will do. That’s why we insisted controls and accountability be put in place. There was resistance in UNITY to this idea under the assumption we were exerting control because of the size of our group. This is false.

A number of statements from people have suggested, “we have made out better under a UNITY model rather than as a stand alone convention.”  This may have been true in the first two UNITY conferences, but following the last two conferences under the UNITY model, we have crunched the numbers and they tell a story that may make you rethink this assumption.  In Chicago, did any of you notice several mainstays of the NABJ Conference went missing (Gospel Brunch and Golf Tournament just to name a few)? Additionally, there was some resistance in having NABJ conduct a Sports Mentor Breakfast.  UNITY asked us to share this revenue, however, we resisted.  We also learned if you registered on-site, UNITY would capture those dollars and not share revenue with the organization members (remember UNITY has no members).

When NABJ has learned new ways of doing business, we have always shared our knowledge with our UNITY partners. We now know many of our brethren had restrictions on who they could take money from (sponsors). They have revised their thinking. In the shrinking budget process of media companies, it is imperative we diversify revenue.

If there was an issue which put me over the top, it was a report from the Executive Director on projections from Philadelphia Convention revenues.  Our projections (in a stand alone year) will far exceed what we will receive in the projections from the upcoming UNITY Convention in 2012. This means a shortfall in NABJ revenue during the UNITY conference. We have no way to make up the revenue shortfall (there has been some discussion, but more resistance from UNITY).  If there is a shortfall of this nature, we are talking about laying off one maybe two people. We can’t allow this to happen with year round programming that you demand.This was not a unanimous decision (Parliamentarian, Tonju Francois voted against the measure). My other colleagues on the BOD were clear; we can’t go backwards, we must go forward. I want to reiterate I believe in the concept UNITY but, at this time, this model is not the right one for NABJ and I will work with individual members of UNITY on various causes and activities.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you and represent you on the Board of Directors.


Charles Robinson

NABJ Region II Director

From my perspective as a presidential candidate this is a sad but necessary day. I will welcome dialogue with any UNITY partner but once again I want to make it clear doing business as we have done is the past is not moving forward but going backwards.

Charles Robinson, III

Candidate for President of NABJ

What sort of "Unity" is this?

Does we really need race-based professional organizations in today's America? Count me among the skeptics. I don't see them in the NBA or NFL, and talent of all skin colors seems to flourish there.

Also, what to make of a group that asserts the goal of "Unity" but falls apart over who should get access to the jampot---not to mention that it excludes the single biggest U.S. ethnic group of all: English-speaking whites.

Not surprisingly, it now seems to have imploded.  Good riddance. 

What sort of "Unity" is this?

Joe Grimm wrote about the canard that the journalist of color organizations "exclude" whites in this January column for the Poynter Institute:

Minority journalism groups are not members-only

Richard Prince


Reply to What Sort of "Unity" Is This?


John 33317 


I am affronted by your seeming anger and the assumption that we live in a post-racial America. I believe your views are based on the election of the nation’s first Black president. Clearly, you have missed the news stories about the uptick in hate attacks. The most recent FBI stats show the level of  hate crimes on people of color and others:


 John, feel free to join any group in or outside of UNITY. But, I suggest you check the attitude evidenced in your statement: “Where's the right one for me and other members of the country's single largest ethnic group, i.e. English-speaking whites?”   The members of the NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, NAJA all speak and write in English. 


Richard Prince reported on this site earlier this month the minority population stands at 36%, but in newsrooms at 12.79%. Kinda' lopsided, don't you think? When people have common cultural, social and economic issues they tend to band together. From a 2008 NABJ report:


  • Only 17 percent of the managers at stations owned and operated by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are people of color, and more than a third of those stations have no people of color at all in the managerial ranks.
  • Among 58 news directors, 17 percent were non-white: eight were African American, one was Hispanic and one was Asian.


Finally, have you asked whites why they join the NRA? The Tea Party? The Alumni Association? The Aryan Nation?  


Canard? Oh please

So Unity used to be for journalists "of color" (we whites get what that code phrase means, and its hardly a canard). I.e. white for these folks is not a color. Now, it looks like some people have decided other members of Unity aren't the right color either.

I ask again: do we need such racially based groups in today's America? If so, where's the right one for me and other members of the country's single largest ethnic group, i.e. English-speaking whites?  

John33317: It is indeed a


It is indeed a canard that whites cannot be members of the journalist of color organizations.

Is there a still need for them? Let's let the numbers speak for themselves. More than 7,000 people attended the final day of the Unity convention in 2008.

I infer from your question that we have become a "postracial" society, with no need for people of color to band together for their self-interest. Are we also post-ethnic? Do we need Italian-American, Polish-American or Irish-American groups any more? Do they no longer have things in common that they would like to gather to discuss and/or celebrate?

A look at the racial composition of the Society of Professional Journalists will show that despite its commendable commitment to diversity and inclusion, it is nevertheless a white-majority organization. You ask, "where's the right one for me and other members of the country's single largest ethnic group, i.e. English-speaking whites?" You might feel more comfortable there.

There are organizations in which white people can examine their whiteness and what that means in this society. A check with any of the "whiteness studies" programs can point you to them, or you can start your own.

And as Joe Grimm pointed out in his piece, you are still welcome to join any of the journalist of color organizations or attend one of their meetings and learn more about the intersection of race and journalism.

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