Unity Makes Concessions to NABJ
Sunday, March 27, 2011
and Monday, March 28, 2011
With then-presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama as a draw, the Unity convention in Chicago in 2008 attracted 7,550 attendees by its final Sunday. The possibility that the National Association of Black Journalists would pull out of the 2012 Unity convention in Las Vegas diminished after Unity's weekend board meeting. (Credit: Jennifer Dronkers/Unity News)
The board of Unity: Journalists of Color, meeting face to face for the first time since the National Association of Black Journalists raised the possibility of pulling out of the 2012 Unity convention, made concessions to NABJ and reduced the likelihood of such a pullout.
"Communication was effective," NABJ President Kathy Y. Times told Journal-isms on Sunday after the weekend meeting at the sleek office-park headquarters of Gannett Co./USA Today in McLean, Va. "I'm happy to hear the alliance partners . . . have a better understanding of what our concerns are."
However, she said it was too soon for a final decision about boycotting the Unity convention and holding a separate NABJ gathering next year. "I'll discuss things with my board of directors and report back to them on the progress we've made, and then we'll discuss those issues with the membership, as we promised to do by the next board meeting," she said. The NABJ board of directors meets April 9 and 10 in Philadelphia.
NABJ, the largest of the four associations in the Unity coalition, maintained that Unity had grown beyond its original mission and shortchanged NABJ. With the recession forcing reexaminations of bottom lines, NABJ 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 — who represent the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association — supporting NABJ.
Underlying the NABJ disaffection, board members have said, was a feeling that the other associations were aligned against it, even though NABJ represented 53.32 percent of the Unity convention attendance in 2008, according to NABJ figures. AAJA represented 20.4 percent, NAHJ 22.66 percent and NAJA 3.61 percent.
Hernandez defeated Barbara Ciara of NABJ, the then-Unity president who was seeking a full term. Ciara told Journal-isms then that she felt a "gentleman's agreement" was violated: that she would win the seat unopposed.
A second flashpoint was the undoing of Ciara's appointment of Leisa Richardson of the Indianapolis Star, a past NABJ convention chair, as Unity convention chair for 2012. No NABJ representative has served as Unity president during a convention year, NABJ board members said, and the appointment of Richardson, who is also an NABJ representative on the Unity board, would have helped compensate for that.
On Friday, Unity brought 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.
"Ron Brown forced us back on the business rather than the emotion," Hernandez told Journal-isms on Sunday.
The presidents of the four Unity partner organizations, who are also members of the Unity board, said they had agreed to these measures:
- "Confirmed NABJ member Leisa Richardson as chairwoman of the convention committee, with participants from each of the alliance partners.
- "A committee composed of a member from each alliance partner will draft a strategic plan to chart the direction of UNITY, including fundraising, for the next several years, to be finalized by June 1st.
- "The governance committee composed of the alliance presidents will review the process to ensure equal and fair voice for each of the UNITY alliance partners. The board will consider the committee’s recommendations by April 30th. The board of directors of UNITY is moving forward with instituting better communications strategies and oversight to ensure that UNITY in all years and the upcoming 2012 convention is a success."
"I'm really hopeful," Hernandez said. "We had a really productive meeting addressing all of NABJ's concerns. I'm looking forward to a fabulous convention in 2012."
Sharon Pian Chan, immediate past national president of AAJA and another Unity board member, agreed. She told Journal-isms, "NABJ's concerns are Unity's concerns. . . . The basic thing is to listen to each other. That had been hard to do" without face-to-face meetings. "We want the convention to benefit all the alliance partners," Chan said. "I'm hopeful."
Times said, "During the past three days, we really discussed a lot of issues that helped people understand why we were pressing for answers and for change. We have new members of the board of directors, and they told me they were really enlightened during our dialogue. People listened rather attentively, and for the most part we set some clear objectives" that "make sure that Unity works to strengthen the alliance partners."
Times also said she was pleased with a faster timetable for addressing some of NABJ's concerns.
On the thorny issue of the financial split among the associations and the Unity umbrella organization, Times said, "We did get some of our questions answered about how much money Unity needs to sustain itself" but "right now, the split is staying as it is."
"Thom Greer, a pioneering journalist who rose from covering the suburbs to being one of the first black editors of a major daily newspaper, died today of cancer. He was 69," Grant Segall reported Sunday for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland.
"Greer became editor of The Plain Dealer in 1990 — 26 years after beginning his journalism career in Trenton, N.J. He was one of only three black journalists to lead newsrooms at major daily newspapers at that time.
" 'Thom was a role model for me and many other young African-American journalists,' said close friend Gregory Moore, Plain Dealer state editor when Greer came in 1983, now editor of the Denver Post. 'He was just an incredible story-teller. He had done investigative reporting and put people in jail. He had been at all the great boxing matches. He had been to the White House. Thom Greer, in many ways, was the person I wanted to be.'
"Greer was a mountain of a man — 6-foot-3, burly, blunt and droll.
". . . Greer first worked at The Plain Dealer from 1974 to 1976 on suburban news. He was part of a team investigating shakedowns of late-night liquor joints and thefts of confiscated liquor. The stories led to the convictions of several Cuyahoga County sheriff's officers.
"He later said, 'I felt I was serving my fellow man by getting rid of those thieves.'
". . . He returned in 1983 as editor of a sports department that was mostly homegrown and home-focused. He added more national and international stories and some staffers from afar, including columnist Bill Livingston from Texas.
" 'He wanted interpretive journalism, not team spin, in the sports column,' Livingston said. 'More than once, he went to bat for me when team PR men and team owners called him, upset by something I wrote.'
"Greer moved up to managing editor in 1986, executive editor in 1989 and editor in 1990. He oversaw the creation of bureaus in outlying counties and expanded coverage of women, youth, features, business and scholastic sports.
"He became vice president in 1992. He oversaw affirmative action, community outreach, volunteerism and Plain Dealer Charities, which gave hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to civic institutions. He also supervised The Plain Dealer scholarship program and created and led the Plain Dealer High School Newspaper Workshop.
". . . His wife, the former Maxine Lynch, also reported and edited at The Plain Dealer."
[Services have not yet been scheduled, the E.F. Boyd & Son funeral home said Tuesday morning.]
- John F. Morrison, Philadelphia Daily News: Thom Greer, 69, former Daily News sports writer (March 29)
- Plain Dealer: Remembering former Plain Dealer Editor Thomas H. Greer: editorial (March 29)
Monday, March 28
Kathy Times, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, plans to write to NABJ members on Tuesday regarding NABJ's status within Unity: Journalists of Color, she said Monday night.
Over the weekend, the Unity board met face to face for the first time since NABJ raised the possibility of pulling out of the 2012 Unity convention. The Unity board made concessions to NABJ, but some NABJ board members Monday challenged a Journal-isms statement and headline stating that the concessions reduced the likelihood of such a pullout.
The weekend meeting ended with one of the key disagreements between NABJ and its Unity partners unchanged: the revenue split between the associations and the Unity umbrella group. NABJ's proposals had been voted down by representatives of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association. Instead, they voted to change the formula in a different way.
Members told Journal-isms there was no formal vote in the weekend meeting to revisit the financial split, but it was discussed. Much of the meeting at Gannett Co. headquarters in McLean, Va., was held in executive session, with only board members permitted in the room. Michele Salcedo, president of NAHJ, said during the session on Sunday, "We ended up with a revenue sharing plan that was virtually identical to what was passed a few weeks ago. We're all committed to coming up with a process that is equitable for everyone."
Times, the only Unity board member who is also a member of the NABJ board, said at the conclusion of the meeting Sunday, "Communication was effective. I'm happy to hear the alliance partners . . . have a better understanding of what our concerns are."
"Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish and members of the openness community today met with President Obama to discuss a range of transparency issues," the committee reported on Monday.
"The Oval Office meeting — during which the president was given an award for his work thus far in encouraging agencies to release information to the public — was the first time that longtime open government advocates in Washington recalled a sitting president meeting with them to discuss government transparency.
"During the meeting, President Obama reiterated the administration’s commitment to encouraging federal agencies to improve their response rates to Freedom of Information Act requests and to more proactively post government records and databases online. The president also reaffirmed support for a qualified federal shield law protecting reporters’ confidential sources.
"President Obama also said that the administration would continue to support federal legislation to protect from retaliation whistleblowers who report government fraud and other illegal activity, but he noted that it is his duty as president to limit those protections in the cases of government employees who release information that is damaging to national security.
". . . Joining Dalglish at the White House meeting with the president were: Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch; Tom Blanton, executive director of The National Security Archive at George Washington University; Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight; and Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org."
The Reporters Committee was created in 1970 during a time when New York Times reporter Earl Caldwell was ordered to reveal to a federal grand jury his sources in the Black Panther organization, threatening his independence as a newsgatherer, according to "a short history" on the committee's website.
"Caldwell's dilemma prompted a meeting at Georgetown University to discuss the need to provide legal assistance to journalists when their First Amendment rights come under fire. Among those present, or involved soon afterwards, were J. Anthony Lukas, Murray Fromson, Fred Graham, Jack Nelson, Ben Bradlee, Eileen Shanahan, Mike Wallace, Robert Maynard and Tom Wicker.
"They formed a committee that operated part-time and on a shoestring (its first 'office' was a desk in the press room at the U.S. Supreme Court). With support from foundations and news organizations, the founders built a staff and began recruiting attorneys to donate their services."
President Obama spoke in the early evening from the National Defense University in Washington. (Credit: Pete Souza/White House)
In an early-evening speech scheduled to be carried by the major broadcast and cable news networks, "President Obama defended the American-led military assault in Libya on Monday, saying it was in the national interest of the United States to stop a potential massacre that would have 'stained the conscience of the world,' " as Helene Cooper phrased it for the New York Times.
Obama's litany of offenses by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi included, "Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed."
On PBS, Gwen Ifill anchored the PBS "NewsHour" broadcast, which included coverage of Obama's speech, but few journalists of color were visible in the pre- and post-speech commentary, even on CNN or MSNBC.
In an instant blog analysis for the Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson, who is often a commentator on MSNBC on such occasions, wrote:
" 'It is true that America cannot use our military wherever oppression occurs,' he said. 'But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.'
"What he didn’t do, though, was explain exactly how 'what’s right' differs from what isn’t. He didn’t explain how factors such as politics or oil should figure in decisions on whether to intervene. He didn’t explain which conflicts are worthy of ground troops and which are not. The Obama Doctrine’s outlines are clear, but the details are hard to make out."
On NPR's "It's All Politics" blog, Frank James wrote, "President Obama's Monday night speech on Libya was probably as striking for what he didn't say as much as what he did say."
In a "fact check" of the speech, Calvin Woodward and Richard Lardner of the Associated Press wrote, "There may be less than meets the eye to President Barack Obama's statements Monday night that NATO is taking over from the U.S. in Libya and that U.S. action is limited to defending people under attack there by Moammar [Gaddafi's] forces."
Obama was competing with himself on Spanish-language Univision. That network aired at 7 p.m. Eastern time an hour-long education town hall meeting featuring Obama with students, teachers and parents. It was filmed earlier in the day at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington. The event can be viewed online here.
- Jonathan Hicks, New York Amsterdam News: Obama’s Libyan dilemma
- Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Modest Support for Libya Airstrikes, No Clear Goal Seen: Little Public Interest in Libyan Mission
- Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista blog: Three reasons to be pessimistic on improving Latino academic achievement
- Dr. Boyce Watkins, theGrio.com: Farrakhan goes to war with Obama over Libya
- Peter Wallsten, Washington Post: Obama rewarding local stations in battleground states with biggest 'get' in TV news
Libyan government minders try to prevent Iman Obeidi from speaking to foreign journalists. (Credit: Sky News)
"The Libyan government claims an alleged Libyan gang rape victim who took her case to the international media in Tripoli is safe and secure. But a rights group says Libyan authorities have a history of abusing rape victims and shouldn't be given the benefit of the doubt," Borzou Daragahi reported Monday from Tripoli, Libya, for the Los Angeles Times.
"Iman Obeidi has been missing since Saturday, when she was forcibly bundled into a car and driven off by Libyan security officials after she alleged to reporters that members of Moammar [Gaddafi's] notorious militias gang raped and imprisoned her for two days.
"Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group that has been trying unsuccessfully to gain access to Libya, demanded that her family and international media be allowed to independently verify the official claim that she is free and safe.
" 'The last time Obeidi was seen, she was bruised and recounting a horrible account of rape, then was snatched from journalists by security forces,' Nadya Khalife, women’s rights researcher for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, said in a press announcement. 'The government needs to produce her, free her, find out what happened and prosecute anyone who violated the law.'
"Until the media and her family have that verification, assume that that she remains in state custody, the rights group urged."
A Libyan newscaster says, "In the name of almighty God, I pledge to you dear leader that I will sacrifice my last breath, my last bullet, my last drop of blood, my last baby and child for you." (Credit: businessinsider.com)
"A newscaster on a pro-[Moammar Gaddafi] television show wanted to make a point about the greatness of the Libyan leader," Noah Davis wrote Friday for businessinsider.com.
"He used some serious firepower to do so, bringing an AK-47 to the anchor desk to prove [Gaddafi's] willingness to arm his people.
" 'I'm ready at any time, awake or asleep, to defend the country. This is our weapon,' the anchor said."
- Habibou Bangré, theRoot.com: African Women and the 'Arab Spring'
- CNN.com staff: CNN cameraman faces gun, has camera smashed in Libya hotel
- Joe Pompeo, Yahoo: LIBYA MEDIA WATCH: Journos clash with security forces; too much news for U.S. citizens to process
- Reuters: Reuters journalists freed in Syria
- "Ashley Dunn, a veteran reporter and editor at the Los Angeles Times, has been named California editor, supervising the newsroom's largest group of journalists," the Times reported on Monday. "He succeeds David Lauter, who is becoming chief of the Tribune Co.'s Washington bureau, which provides news coverage for The Times, Chicago Tribune and other Tribune news organizations." Dunn, a Chinese American, is a 1982 graduate of the Maynard Institute's Summer Program for Minority Journalists.
- "Katie Couric is on vacation this week — perhaps her last as the anchor of the CBS Evening News," Chris Ariens wrote Monday for TVNewser. "She won’t be interviewing the president tomorrow, like her cross-network colleagues Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams will be. (CBS’ Erica Hill, who is filling in on Evening News, will conduct the interview.) "Two months from now — if you believe all the reports of the last few days — she’ll be out of the anchor chair and on to her new TV life, most likely daytime syndication." The item was accompanied by a poll, "Who should be the next anchor of the CBS Evening News?" Choices included black journalists Lester Holt and Russ Mitchell.
- "XXL magazine has launched its first iPhone app, and if you’re an aspiring emcee, this is a must have," Chris O'Shea wrote for FishbowlNY. "Features include a hip-hop news feed, trivia section and a geo-tracking section that allows users to find their friends. The app is already a hit, having reached number seven in the iTunes music apps category with 10,000 downloads in a little under a week. The reason for such quick success? The 'Ready or Not' function, which allows users to upload 30-second freestyles and submit them directly to XXL editors to be judged."
- "Federal government officials yesterday refused to let a reporter from the Rapid City Journal sit in on a major meeting to discuss how to improve the quality of health care for Native Americans," according to an editorial Friday in the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal. The "U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Indian Health Service, met this week with tribal leaders from an eight-state region. . . . An official from Health and Human Services said the meeting was closed at the request of tribal leaders."
- "In the wake of the March 11th earthquake that struck Japan and caused a devastating tsunami, many publishers are offering assistance in the relief effort," Stefanie Botelho wrote Friday for Folio:, listing some of the efforts.
- The main witness in the Chauncey Bailey murder trial recounted in chilling detail Monday what he said were murders of two men in July 2007 and how he later hunted Bailey before assassinating the journalist on a street corner, allegedly at the order of Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, Thomas Peele reported Monday for the Chauncey Bailey Project.
- In Jackson, Miss., Jobie L. Martin, 93, was pronounced dead at the scene Saturday after reportedly driving northbound in the southbound lane on I-220 and striking two other vehicles head-on, Cassandra Mickens reported for the Clarion-Ledger. "Martin hosted a TV variety program titled 'The Jobie Martin Show,' which aired on WLBT and WAPT in the 1970s. Known as 'the Loud Mouth of the South,' Martin was the first African American in Mississippi to host a commercial TV show."
- Jonathan Katz and Rukmini Callimachi of the Associated Press won a first place National Headliner Award of the Press Club of Atlantic City in the "News beat coverage or continuing story by an individual or team" category. Their entry was titled, "Haiti," the AP reported Friday.
- "After 33 years of touching his audience with the human drama behind a story, Ken Screven has turned off his microphone at CBS6, ending an award-winning career that took him to Georgia to trace his roots and throughout the Capital Region to find the stories that hit home," Carol Demare reported Friday for the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union. "Screven, 60, Albany bureau chief for the Niskayuna-based television station, began his career with the CBS affiliate in May 1978 after a little more than a year at WROW radio in Albany. His smooth bass voice was his trademark."
- Karen Parker, recently retired from the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, recalled this at a Saturday event called, "The Negro Beat: Breaking News and Breaking Barriers": "I got kicked off the copy desk because whites didn't want me editing their copy. And, this is 1962, 1963. So, those things have changed tremendously." The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in downtown Greensboro hosted the event, Kimberly Page reported for WFMY in Greenboro.
- "This article in the Union Weekly, a student publication at California State University Long Beach, sparked a strong reaction among the Native community," JoKay Dowell reported Monday in Native American Times. Noah Kelly covered a powwow held on the California State University Long Beach campus, introducing the setting as a "Native American-themed flea market." ". . . Using expletives to describe the food he saw, including fry bread, Kelly asked, 'What the f… is an Indian taco?' He went on to compare the dish to Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza, 'only shittier.' "
- "According to news accounts, Côte d’Ivoire is a tense, unsafe paralyzed West African country because of a contested presidential election in which incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to cede his office to Alassane Ouattara, whom the international community – especially France and the U.S. — has proclaimed the winner of the recent presidential election," George Curry wrote from that country for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. But, Curry said, ". . . Unlike the western world, people here are not consumed with the nation’s intractable political crisis."
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 BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites. 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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