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Friday, August 1, 2014

Andrew Young, at NABJ, Stands by Words of 30 Years Ago;

NABJ Members Vote to Penalize Errant Board Reps

Short Takes

Andrew Young, at NABJ, Stands by Words of 30 Years Ago;
NABJ Members Vote to Penalize Errant Board Reps

When the National Association of Black Journalists was only nine years old, Andrew Young put the organization in the news when, in the 1984 presidential campaign, he said at NABJ's convention in Atlanta that Democratic candidate Walter Mondale's bid for the White House was being run by a group of "smart-ass white boys who think they know it all."

NABJ is now 39, and politics has undergone a sea change with the influx of unprecedented campaign cash and the election of the nation's first black president.

And Young, former aide to Martin Luther King Jr., ambassador to the United Nations, Georgia congressman and Atlanta mayor, says he was correct about Mondale and politics back then.

"Unfortunately, I was right," Young, now 82, told Journal-isms Friday as he returned to NABJ's convention, this time to Boston's John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center to discuss issues affecting young black men. "Mondale let the experts there take over the campaign and put the money into television and did not get out the vote, and there were a lot of problems."

The consultants that Mondale hired were more interested in enriching themselves by becoming embedded in a culture in which one day they spend money on television ads and the next appear on television as talking heads, according to Young. In his own successful run for Congress in 1972, he had secured a 72 percent turnout, he said. Mondale lost the election to Republican incumbent Ronald Reagan.

While national politics was on the agenda at this year's NABJ convention, with appearances by GOP Chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday and a remote, technically challenged Friday appearance by his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, NABJ's own politics took priority. So did the networking and job-hunting that many have come to expect from the nation's largest organization of journalists of color.

A 12-member activist group of longtime members, including former NABJ presidents, continued its push for transparency and accountability by successfully proposing resolutions imposing penalties on errant board members who do not post minutes or financial reports on time and requiring the board of directors to post an itemized list of expenses.

Some scolded the board for failing to consult the membership before voting this week for a memorandum of understanding to explore a joint convention in 2016 with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Les Payne, a founding member and early NABJ president, said, "We need to be concerned about who is an ally and who is a rival." He put Hispanics in the latter category. Others said that while they would not oppose the joint convention, they were concerned that NAHJ, under a previous administration, had sided against NABJ during its difficulties with the Unity: Journalists of Color coalition. Both NABJ and NAHJ eventually pulled out of Unity.

Despite those rebukes, however, the NABJ leadership won a key vote among the overall membership — not merely the stalwarts who attended its annual business meeting. Members voted to revise the NABJ constitution by adjusting membership categories, allowing the president to serve more than one term and creating a new position of vice president-digital. The vote was 193 to 46, according to Crystal Garner, reporting in the NABJ Monitor, the student convention publication.

Darryl R. Matthews February at a dinner with journalists.  (Credit: James

The board's choice of Darryl R. Matthews Sr. as executive director won unusual kudos from members at the Friday business meeting lasting nearly four hours as he reported on management problems he had uncovered and said he intended to be forthcoming because "an informed membership is a happy membership."

Joe Davidson, a founding member, took to the microphone to declare, "I have never been as impressed with an executive director's report. It was long, but it was worth it."

Among other items, Matthews reported that the organization faced an unforeseen $68,000 bill from the New Orleans Marriott for 400 room nights for a 2014 convention that will not take place. NABJ had been scheduled to convene in New Orleans this year but moved up its New Orleans conference to 2012 after it pulled out of the Unity: Journalists of Color coalition in 2011.

Matthews also found that "NABJ has conservatively paid thousands of dollars in sales taxes for goods and services purchased because it has not and did not have a tax exempt sales certificate on file in the state where these purchases occurred nor have we required the host chapters to secure one where we conduct our national conventions," as he put it in his written report.

He added, "This is a tremendous loss of revenue because of the increased expense," but that "A tax exempt [sales] tax certificate was obtained for this convention."

Under the resolutions passed at the business meeting, neither the executive director, office staff nor board of directors may process expenses of board members who do not post a summary of the quarterly board meetings within two weeks and the full minutes within 30 days.

Noncompliant board members also must abstain from voting on any NABJ issue for six months after "their dereliction of duty," according to the language in the motion. The status of noncompliant board members must be noted on the NABJ website, as Joshua Jamerson reported in the NABJ Monitor.

"That move came after some members — including past president Vanessa Williams, who submitted the motion on behalf of a 12-member bloc — became frustrated that minutes from the board's January meeting hadn't been posted online," Jamerson reported.

"Secretary Corey Dade compiled minutes for the April board meeting in New Jersey, and those are available on the NABJ website. However the minutes from the board’s January meeting have not been released.

"Dade said he is still working with former executive director Maurice Foster on hammering out details on some 'financial information, some fundraising-related information.' "

Matthews urged the group of NABJ activists to take down, a website that NABJ leaders have said contains misinformation and is harming the organization.

The executive director said that he met with executives of the Taproot Foundation, a nonprofit organization offering management assistance, and that they were concerned "about the disparaging nature" of the site. "Taproot executives said, 'This site needs to come down immediately. You will not attract significant funding opportunities with this type of notoriety,' " Matthews reported.

Drew Berry, a former broadcast executive and interim executive director of NABJ and a force behind the website, praised Matthews' selection and his transparency as evidence that the website was doing its job. "If [board] members do what they're supposed to do, there is no need for NABJ Board Watch," Berry told Journal-isms. He said Matthews' presentations were a sign of "integrity and where we need to go. The transparency has to continue."

Butler later told Journal-isms that the NABJ Board Watch was not responsible for positive change. "Nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "Not only do I deny that they have produced these changes, but by publicizing these charges, they have cost the organization money [from funders]. All they have done is hurt NABJ. That's total bullshit."

Matthews told Journal-isms that convention registration stood at 2,057 as of Thursday. It usually grows as the conference continues. Total registration was 2,207 in Orlando in 2013 and 2,399 for New Orleans in 2012. As the news industry has contracted, NABJ membership has declined. "The prospecting and retention of members is paramount," Matthews told board members.

Short Takes

  • Seth Prince, sports editor at the Oregonian in Portland, has accepted "a great job with Student Media at the University of Oklahoma," he told colleagues. Prince is Cherokee and Choctaw. He is to be digital and design adviser. 

  • Maxie C. Jackson III, who in April 2013 left the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, where he was president and CEO, has been named manager of 90.3 WCPN ideastream in Cleveland. "ideastream is a public service, multiple-media organization with a mission to strengthen our communities," according to a news release. Jackson has also been senior director, program development for New York Public Radio (WNYC), and radio program director for WETA-FM in Washington. 

  • Sylvester Monroe, veteran journalist at such publications as Time, Newsweek and Ebony and most recently senior editor at American Public Media, based in Los Angeles, is joining the Washington Post as an assistant foreign editor, Monroe told colleagues. He said he starts Aug. 25.

  • Fannie Flono, associate editor at the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, where she writes editorials, is retiring after 30 years there, she told Journal-isms. "I don't have any plans," Flono said, adding that she was awaiting "the next chapter" and that "I hope they replace me with a female and another minority."

  • "Less than two years after being named Editor of Spanish-language daily La Opinión, Reynaldo Mena is no longer with the paper," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site. "His last day was yesterday. The same day, impreMedia, the paper's parent company, announced that Gabriel Lerner was promoted to Editorial Director, replacing Mena. . . ."

  • Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist-turned-immigration activist, is relocating to San Francisco. "I made a big personal decision, which is better for my health and creative being: I am coming home — home being the SF Bay Area, where my family and family of friends live," he told social media colleagues. "Ten summers ago, I left San Francisco and moved to Washington, D.C., where I lived for five years. Then I moved to NYC, where I've lived for the past five years. Now it's time to come home. I will still be traveling a lot but, starting in August, my shoes will be in one place in San Francisco. . . ."

  • "Ken Armstrong, an investigative reporter for The Seattle Times, will join the staff of The Marshall Project in the coming weeks, Marshall Project editor-in-chief Bill Keller confirmed Tuesday," Benjamin Mullin reported Thursday for the Poynter Institute. Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, told Journal-isms in March that site founder "Neil Barsky and I agreed from our first conversation that The Marshall Product would recruit a diverse staff. The criminal justice system, which will be the focus of our reporting, touches people of color disproportionately, as is distressingly evident from the population of our overstuffed prisons, the profiles of the victims, and the impact on families and communities." However, Simone Weichselbaum, formerly of the Daily News in New York, is the only black journalist hired to date

  • Eva Rodriguez, who oversaw coverage of Europe and the Americas on the foreign desk of the Washington Post, is leaving the Post to become a senior editor at Politico magazine, Post editors told staffers on Thursday. She is the second Latino journalist who has announced plans to leave the newspaper recently. Ernesto Londoño, a reporter and former foreign correspondent, is joining the New York Times editorial board. Rodriguez has been at the Post since 2007 and has been an editorial writer and deputy editor of the Style section.

NABJ, NAHJ Move Toward Joint Convention

July 31, 2014

Meeting Could Assemble Most Journalists of Color Since '08

Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, left,

Meeting Could Assemble Most Journalists of Color Since '08

The associations representing journalists from the nation's two largest groups of color — blacks and Hispanics — have signed a memorandum of understanding to hold a joint convention in 2016, Bob Butler, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, announced on Thursday.

The two presidents held a news conference at the NABJ convention in Boston, which had attracted 1,984 paid registrants as of Wednesday night and is expected to exceed 2,000 on Thursday. The prospect of a joint 2016 meeting could attract 3,000 journalists in that election year, the presidents said. "I want a [presidential] debate at NABJ-NAHJ 2016," Butler said at the news conference.

A convention of 3,000 journalists of color would make it the largest such conference since the 2008 Unity: Journalists of Color meeting in Chicago. Some 7,550 attended on its final Sunday, though that figure includes sponsors and others who were not registered.

The 2012 Unity conference, held without NABJ but including NAHJ, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, registered 2,385 people, Unity's executive director said at the time.

The idea of a joint convention between NABJ and NAHJ was broached a year ago at the Hispanic journalists convention in Anaheim, Calif., as Balta made a case to his members for withdrawing from the Unity: Journalists for Diversity coalition. NABJ had already withdrawn, citing governance and financial issues. NAHJ followed later in 2013.

"We need to be there in Washington, D.C.," Balta told Journal-isms then. Butler said Thursday, however, that the choice of cities would depend on "who's going to give us the best deal."

Still to be resolved are such issues as revenue- and cost-sharing between the two groups. Once those are settled and the two organizations contract to hold the convention together, a request for proposals is to be published. Darryl R. Matthews Sr., the NABJ executive director, said he expected the process to be "wrapped up" by the end of the year.

Unity: Journalists for Diversity, which includes AAJA, NAJA and NLGJA, has not announced its plans for 2016.

However, Butler said, the NABJ-NAHJ event should not be compared with Unity. "Unity was an organization. This is two organizations working collaboratively to have a convention."

NABJ's Boston attendance figures are comparable to those from its 2013 meeting in Orlando, Fla. On the Tuesday of that convention, then-NABJ Executive Director Maurice Foster said 1,937 people were registered, a figure that includes exhibitors. The previous year, NABJ attracted 2,586 registrants in New Orleans.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, right, with meteorologist and reporter Andrew

Matthews said he was more excited that NABJ had reached $1 million in "partnerships," a word he preferred to sponsorships because it places the two parties on an equal footing. The $1 million figure exceeds that of the last two years, he said.

This is the first time NABJ has met in Boston, and that "sends a big message that in Boston we are moving forward," Mayor Martin J. Walsh told the assembled journalists on Thursday. As Wayne Dawkins noted in the NABJ Journal, the organization's magazine, "Despite a more relaxed, inviting atmosphere in today's Boston, many NABJ members' experiences there were seared during the city's hostile racial era during the 1970s through early 1990s."

Walsh, speaking at the downtown John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, urged attendees to consider seeking jobs in his city, noting that "Boston is a very different place today" and that two-thirds of residents under 19 are black and Latino.

The convention opened just after the American Society of News Editors released its annual diversity survey. It showed that the number of journalists of color in newspaper and online newsrooms increased by 1 percentage point, to 13.34 percent, while the figure for black journalists declined from 1,790 to 1,754.

"It almost seems as though ethnic diversity is coming at the expense of African American journalists," Butler told Journal-isms. He said he was disappointed that the decline took place "despite all of the efforts of NABJ" and despite the outcry this year about the lack of inclusion at new, online  journalism ventures. In March, NABJ wrote an "open letter to media startups."

Also on Thursday, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, defended voter identification laws, saying he had collected affidavits that documented voter fraud in Wisconsin. Priebus said he wanted a system where "voting is easy but it's hard to cheat." Critics have called such laws voter suppression aimed at audiences likely to vote Democratic, principally people of color and young people.

Priebus also called on Republicans to become more active in pressing their cause between elections. "If you don't show up until five hours before the election, you're not giving people a choice," he said. Priebus noted that only 6 percent of African Americans vote Republican; that his mother was born in Khartoum, Sudan; and that he had clerked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in Los Angeles.

The chairman said those are not reasons for switching to the GOP, but "All of us have a story to tell, but if nobody's there to tell the story, then we're not going to move the dial."

The GOP chairman also said he "sat down with Bob Johnson," co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, who "wants companies to diversify executive leadership."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the Democratic National Committee chair, is scheduled to address the organization Friday.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, appearing on his 58th birthday, opened Thursday's events with a challenge to journalists not to confuse political drama and substance.

"We need you to challenge the leaders who say they want to get results but then actively refuse to act: like the folks who say we need to rebuild our highway system then refuse to fund the Highway Trust Fund, or who say they want fiscal discipline then push the federal government into default, or the folks who say Americans should have the security of health insurance then vote to take it away.

"We need you to challenge the racist bullies who claim you are the ones playing the race card when they are the ones dealing it.

"We need you to ask why, in a country whose public is ready for pragmatic and compassionate solutions, some leaders offer immigrant hatred in the place of immigration reform. . . ."

Also at the convention:

  • Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, an early supporter of President Obama's White House aspirations, said of his friend, "In the next 2 1/2 years, he'll have to talk more about race. We will not tolerate him sitting back and being passive about race. George Bush was outraged by Rodney King. He said this is wrong." Obama must speak out "not because he's black but because he's president of the United States." Ogletree participated in a luncheon conversation about race Thursday with broadcast journalist Ed Gordon, in which he also said first lady Michelle Obama should be drafted to run for president.

  • Carole Simpson, the retired anchor at ABC News now based in Boston, complained that the theme song from the Boston-located "Cheers" TV show should not have been chosen as music for the ceremony because there were no blacks on the show. Simpson was co-hosting Wednesday's opening reception ceremony. Manuel Smith, a member of the production team, told Journal-isms that the "Cheers" reference was supposed to be part of a comedy routine but that Simpson took the reference in another direction. 

Members previewed "Get On Up," the new biographical drama about entertainer James Brown, to favorable notices. The film opens Friday.

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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