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Unity Accepts Gay Journalists Group

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

National Lesbian, Gay Journalists Assn. to Join for 2012

Essence Moves Wilbekin, Seeks New M.E. for Website

Ethnic Media Diverse in Terms for Those in U.S. Illegally

MSNBC Chief Says Sharpton Both Makes, Delivers News

Univision Debuts Documentary Unit With Look at FARC

NBC-Owned Stations Begin Newsroom Diversity Programs

Short Takes

Camille Beredjick, left, and Yimou Lee work in the student newsroom at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention last month in Philadelphia. (Credit:

National Lesbian, Gay Journalists Assn. to Join for 2012

"UNITY: Journalists of Color will now include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), after the boards of directors of both organizations agreed to the partnership last week," Unity announced on Monday.

The decision appeared not to be unanimous. "The majority voted and moved on, and we take it all in stride and move forward to a successful 2012 Unity convention," Darla Leslie, president of the Native American Journalists Association, told Journal-isms.

Leslie said she did not want to discuss the votes of the NAJA representatives until she consulted again with the NAJA board of directors.

"I'm going to leave that in a gray area," she said. "There was a lot of good debate. The Unity board has a bunch of strong individuals."

Likewise, Joanna Hernandez, president of Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc., told Journal-isms by email, "At the end of discussion, the motion to invite NLGJA was carried by a majority of the 12-member board. We are not releasing additional details about our conversations or how people voted because our priority is celebrating this exciting new partnership and planning for our 2012 UNITY Convention in Las Vegas. We are only 316 days away!"

The decision by the Unity board comes less than a week after talks began about a possible reunification of the National Association of Black Journalists with Unity. While NABJ was a Unity member, the coalition limited membership to journalists of color associations, but the departure of NABJ this year left Unity with seats to fill for its Las Vegas convention.

NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. told Journal-isms by email: "This was a decision made by the Unity Board Directors and does not involve NABJ. UNITY has to do what is best for them in 2012 and beyond. Right now, NABJ's primary focus is planning programs for our membership, including our 2012 convention in New Orleans."

The announcement did not address whether the name "Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc." would be changed, but Michael R. Triplett of NLGJA tweeted, "UNITY anticipates reviewing 'journalists of color' as part of strategic planning, #NLGJA reps be part of that as full #UNITY members."

The Unity news release continued:

"NLGJA’s mission to advance the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender journalists is consistent with UNITY's mission of ensuring that American newsrooms, and consequently news coverage, reflects the diversity of our communities.

“ 'We are delighted that NLGJA’s board has voted to accept our invitation to join the UNITY alliance,' UNITY President Joanna Hernandez said. 'Our alliance will be stronger with NLGJA on board. It expands our mission to embrace diversity broadly, which is a logical progression for UNITY.'

The agreement will allow NLGJA to participate in the UNITY 2012 Convention to be held in Las Vegas next August.

“ 'NLGJA is very excited to join UNITY and is committed to supporting its goal of improving the industry’s coverage of diverse communities,' said NLGJA President David Steinberg. 'Joining UNITY will help NLGJA further its goal of fostering fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues in the news media and encouraging newsroom diversity.'

"The UNITY alliance will continue its traditional focus on ensuring that our newsrooms reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities we cover.

"During the next year, UNITY will work to broaden that focus on diversity more generally. A broader focus will strengthen UNITY’s position when advocating for specific types of inclusion, be it racial, ethnic or based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Joining UNITY will allow NLGJA members to participate in a broader discussion of issues that affect gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. All our alliance members will benefit from a dialogue with a wider, more diverse array of journalists. It will also allow alliance members to participate in additional networking and career development opportunities.

"Representatives from NLGJA and UNITY will meet in the coming weeks to formally execute an agreement that will give NLGJA full membership in UNITY, including appointing four members to the board of directors. After 12 months, both NLGJA and UNITY will have the opportunity to reassess the partnership.

"UNITY and NLGJA are committed to collaborating in good faith to work toward a seamless, stable and mutually advantageous alliance that can continue to advance their common mission.

“ 'UNITY has proved, time and again, that when we operate together, our influence is greater than any of us can achieve individually. Still, many major decisions are embedded in this partnership, such as whether we should change our name and what the financial allocations should be. The boards of each one of our member organizations have a responsibility to weigh these decisions carefully. I look forward to working with each organization’s leadership and membership in articulating our new mission in the coming year,' Ms. Hernandez said. . . . "

Michael Tune, executive director of NLGJA, also announced the decision at a "Leadership in Diversity" meeting of industry diversity leaders held at the New York Times. It was greeted with applause.

Essence Moves Wilbekin, Seeks New M.E. for Website

Emil Wilbekin, a former editor of Vibe and Giant magazines and managing editor of for the last two years, "is transitEmil Wilbekin.ioning to a new, expanded role at the company — working with ESSENCE magazine, as well as Essence’s signature live events such as the Essence Music Festival and Essence Black Women in Music," Essence spokeswoman Dana Baxter said Monday.

"Essence is launching a search for a new Managing Editor for the website, and Emil will stay on board in a dual capacity until his replacement is named.", feeling pressure from other websites targeting black women, unveiled "a bold new design" in June.

According to the comScore, Inc., research firm, rose from 1,009,000 unique visitors in July 2010 to 1,097,000 in July 2011, a 9 percent increase.

But Madame Noire, which features such headlines as "My husband cheated: Reactions you shouldn't have after uncovering infidelity," recorded a 685 percent increase, from 92,000 unique visitors in July 2010 to 725,000 in July 2011.

Essence announced in 2009 that it had hired Wilbekin to be "responsible for the development of original, timely and compelling daily content and programming for the site's multiple channels," reporting to former editor Angela Burt-Murray.

"As one of the first projects to emerge from the partnership between The Warner Bros. Television Group's Telepictures Productions and Time Inc.'s Essence Communications Inc., the revamped is the largest and fastest growing African-American magazine website," an announcement said then.

Before his work with Giant, "Wilbekin was a consultant on behalf of Microsoft for popular digital ventures, such as the official Lebron James website and blog, as well as other MSN sites covering style and travel. In addition, Wilbekin was previously a reporter/writer for AOL Black Voices, a contributor to and and the VP of Brand Development for Marc Ecko; responsible for promoting the Marc Ecko collection and contributing to the company’s magazine, Complex," according to a 2009 announcement.

Lester Holt Replacing Ann Curry on NBC's "Dateline"

Lester Holt"Lester Holt will replace Ann Curry as host of the newsmagazine 'Dateline NBC' when it begins its 20th season on Sept. 23," David Bauder reported Monday for the Associated Press.

"The NBC News veteran will keep his job as co-anchor of the 'Weekend Today' show. Curry, who is now co-anchor with Matt Lauer of the first half of the weekday 'Today' show, was judged too busy for both jobs.

"The announcement was made Monday.

"Holt has been a valued utility player at NBC News, doing multiple reporting and anchoring jobs at the network and sister station MSNBC, and he said people often come up to him wondering when he takes time off.

" 'Sometimes, I'll be flipping the channel at home and think, "Wow, there's a lot of me on TV," ' said Holt, who said his weekends are busy but he has a lot of schedule flexibility otherwise.

"He said he'll report stories for "Dateline" as well as anchor, and his hour-long show about the economy was well-received this summer. He's used to reporting quick pieces for NBC's ''Nightly News' and 'Today,' and the longer-form journalism will give him the chance to do something new, he said."

Credit: Creative Commons/Chrissam42

Ethnic Media Diverse in Terms for People in U.S. Illegally

"Before publishing a story on immigration, every editor faces a question: What term should be used to describe an immigrant who is in the United States illegally?" Elena Shore wrote Monday for New America Media.

"The AP Stylebook states that the preferred term is 'illegal immigrant' — but that 'illegal' should not be used as a noun. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists advocates the use of the term 'undocumented immigrant' or 'undocumented worker.' A campaign headed by the Applied Research Center and its news site ColorLines — called 'Drop the "i" Word' — considers 'illegal' a slur and is calling on media outlets across the country to take a pledge to stop using the term.

"But for editors of U.S. ethnic media — whose news outlets serve the nation’s ethnic and immigrant communities, in multiple languages — the choice may not be as clear. Undocumented immigrants may be described as anything from 'living in hiding' in Punjabi to 'illegal overstayers' in Korean.

"Some ethnic media sectors have taken a stand on the issue: Spanish-language media, for example, generally use the term 'undocumented.] But for many, the question of what term to use remains the individual choice of each writer and editor."

MSNBC Chief Says Sharpton Both Makes, Delivers News

Al Sharpton's "ascension to MSNBC’s 6 p.m. anchor slot signifies yet another episode in the long-running, much-debated drama called 'The Transformation of Al Sharpton from the street-level firebrand who made his name supporting Tawana Brawley in 1988 to a political candidate (twice for Senate, once each for president and mayor of New York) to the Twitter posting, Facebooking, radio-show-hosting modern media figure," Alan Feuer wrote Sunday for the New York Times.

"His recent venture into television has attracted the expected condemnations — all of which have missed how unusual MSNBC’s decision really was.

"Many polarizing former office holders — Sarah Palin, Eliot L. Spitzer — have been given TV platforms, but Mr. Sharpton is not a former anything. He remains an activist: he is planning to march on Washington next month to call for jobs (an event he expects to cover on his show) and has already done segments on another project, winning the release from death row of a Georgia laborer, Troy Davis, convicted — wrongfully, Mr. Sharpton says — of killing a policeman.

"As construed by MSNBC, Mr. Sharpton will be a hybrid TV personality, a journalist-participant of sorts, both a maker and a deliverer of the news. 'We are breaking the mold,' said Phil Griffin, the network’s president. 'Anything he does on the streets, he can talk about on air — we won’t hide anything.'

"Though this arrangement may be journalistic, said Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of media at Northeastern University, it is probably not journalism. Its proper name, Professor Kennedy said, is talk-show hosting."

"Infiltrados" is narrated by Univision News co-anchors Maria Elena Salinas (in English) and Jorge Ramos (in Spanish). (Credit: Univision)

Univision Debuts Documentary Unit With Look at FARC

"Univision announced today the upcoming U.S. premiere of 'Infiltrados' (Infiltrated), a documentary produced by Documentales Univision, Univision News’ new documentary unit," the network said Monday.

" 'Infiltrados' takes an in-depth look at the FARC — one of the world's deadliest terrorist organizations, which is accountable for 60 percent of the cocaine that comes into the United States. The documentary debuting on the Univision Network on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9:57pm ET/PT (8:57pm CT) will broadcast with English and Spanish subtitles via closed captions."

NBC-Owned Stations Begin Newsroom Diversity Programs

"NBC Owned Television Stations has launched a pair of programs designed to attract and train young journalists from diverse backgrounds to work in the owned stations' newsrooms," Michael Malone wrote Monday in Broadcasting & Cable.

"NBC's News Associates program welcomed 10 recent college graduates to its 10 stations; the group started orientation last week and each trainee is paired with a senior level mentor." 

The class includes Chiara Sottile, a Karuk Indian graduate of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism discussed last month in this space.

"The Reporter Training program will tap four young journalists for NBC Owned Stations newsrooms in Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, Miami and San Diego. The program starts in January and is designed 'to attract television or digital journalists early in their careers or experienced print journalists interested in transitioning to television as on-air reporters,' said NBC in a statement."

Short Takes

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