The nation's largest radio market lost one of its two big black-music stations on Monday, and with it the nationally syndicated, civically aware voices of Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden.
Joyner said he was sad and urged New York listeners to keep in touch with his show via the Internet, but Baisden vowed to fight and launched a petition drive.
"It's the end of an era and a long-standing rivalry in New York City radio," Deepti Hajela reported Thursday for the Associated Press.
"Urban adult contemporary station WRKS, or KISS-FM, will no longer be broadcasting at the 98.7 FM frequency after 30 years in operation. Emmis Communications, which owns the station, announced Thursday that the frequency would be leased to ESPN and turned into a sports talk format starting 12:01 a.m. Monday. ESPN has an AM frequency in New York City, but has been looking to shift to FM.
"The end of KISS-FM, a mainstay among African-American listeners in the area, leaves rival station WBLS at 107.5 FM as the only urban adult contemporary station in New York City.
" 'Recent changes in the way radio ratings are measured made it very difficult for us to find success with KISS FM,' Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan said in a statement announcing the change. Some in the radio industry have complained that a new ratings system undercounts minority radio listeners, which in turn can affect advertising sales."
David Hinckley added in the Daily News:
"WBLS was recently acquired by YMF Partners after its parent company Inner City Broadcasting went into bankruptcy. This had led to considerable speculation whether YMF would sell WBLS or change its format.
"It was expected that any move to change the WBLS format to something
other than urban, which launched in 1971, would have met strong community resistance.
"In several ways Thursday's move is a classic case of two companies in a shaky financial position deciding they would be stronger if they worked together as one.
"Still, the merger changes the landscape of urban radio dramatically, since adult urban listeners now have one station instead of two.
"Both WBLS and WRKS have been the top-rated station in the city at various times, and even in low periods they have routinely averaged well over a million listeners apiece per week.
"As for hosts, the merger will integrate them starting Monday.
"Steve Harvey's syndicated show, now heard on WBLS, will continue in the morning.
"Shaila from Kiss will do middays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Jeff Foxx from WBLS will do 3-7 p.m., and Lenny Green from Kiss will do 7 p.m.-midnight.
"That means Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden of WRKS, among other hosts, will be gone."
Baisden started a petition drive (there are several) and gave this statement to Journal-isms by email:
"I will defer to the people of New York to speak out and let station owners and program directors know if they want to be informed, educated and uplifted or simply entertained. The people must let executives know if they want to continue to have a vehicle to respond to injustices like what occurred with the Jena 6 or Trayvon Martin. My plans right now are to let the people of New York exercise their power and let the executives know that they will not allow a powerful voice in the community to be silenced. The only verdict that I will accept is from the people.
"In the meantime, you can listen to The Michael Baisden Show live by downloading the TuneIn Radio App and search Michael Baisden Show from 3-7pm EST. And follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BaisdenLive."
Joyner addressed the issue Monday on his blog.
". . . There was a time, after the movement, when [public] affairs programs that concentrated on community issues were mandated by the FCC," he wrote. "That meant that even mainstream radio and TV stations had to have some programming that represented the interests of minorities. Because of it, a lot of African-Americans and Latinos got jobs outside of black media. When the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated in 1987 under the Reagan administration, many of those programs and hosts went by the wayside.
"Once again, it was left up to black radio to carry the torch. And so it is today, with so many conservative programs tearing down all 'liberal' values and ideals, such as the desire for every American to vote and health care for all. The voices of Limbaugh, Hannity and their ilk are drowning out the voices of 'the people.'
"Whether it's turning to black radio to mourn the death of Whitney Houston or to mobilize a Trayvon Martin rally, we do it better together."
Deon Levingston, vice president and general manager at WBLS, did not respond to questions sent by Journal-isms through his assistant, but he told the AP it was difficult to see KISS go.
"It is a sad day for urban listeners in New York," he said.
"Unfortunately this is a model that we've seen happen time and time again," he said. "It's become very hard for multiple urban stations to be successful."
"A number of African-American bloggers who follow the radio business have portrayed the end of the iconic R&B station as another step in what they describe as the decline of black radio, resulting from excessive commercialization and consolidation, bland and homogenous music formats, and the deleterious effect of the new ratings produced under the Arbitron PPM measurement regime."
* Dennis Shipman blog: Former basketball great [Earvin] "Magic" Johnson to hold a major stake in newly created YMF Media
* Ben Sisario, New York Times: A Radio Merger in New York Reflects a Shifting Industry
Previewing what demographers say will be a United States approaching majority-minority status, the John S. Knight Fellowships program at Stanford University chose a fellowship class more than half journalists of color, the program announced on Monday.
By contrast, the 2011-12 U.S. class of 12 — there is also an international class — includes two Latinos, a journalist of Indian decent and no African Americans. For 2012-13, there will be three African Americans, two Latinos and two Asian Americans.
The seven of color are:
* Barbara Allen, producer/engineer, WTTW-TV, PBS, Chicago. Allen plans to develop a trans-media platform allowing audiences to virtually experience historical events.
* Mary Aviles, editor, EFE News Services, San Jose, Calif., who is to work on a content sharing platform for independent Hispanic media to enable them to build larger audiences.
* Melissa Chan, China correspondent, Al Jazeera English, who is to work on an online toolkit for journalists to protect their computers against hackers and safeguard communications with sources.
* Wilson Liévano, editions coordinator, multimedia, the Wall Street Journal Americas, who plans to build a contextual, multimedia wire service for Spanish-language publications.
* Latoya Peterson, editor and owner, Racialicious.com, District of Columbia, whose goal is to democratize communication and societal participation through the multimedia and text capabilities of mobile technology.
* Samaruddin Stewart, media consultant, Budapest, Hungary, who is to research the use of image forensic tools to identify manipulation in potential news photographs.
* Kevin Weston, new media entrepreneur, Oakland, Calif., who proposes to establish a sustainable, replicable, nonprofit business model for community-based media, with a focus on the San Francisco Bay Area.
During their stay at Stanford, the Knight Fellows pursue independent courses of study and participate in special seminars.
James Bettinger, director of the Knight Fellowships, told Journal-isms by email that the program received 134 applications for the U.S. fellowships, and by its count 46 were journalists of color. They included 17 African Americans, 14 Latinos, 14 Asian Americans and one Native American.
That contrasts with 104 applications last year, including 10 African Americans, nine Asian Americans, seven Latinos and one Native American.
The U.S. Census Bureau has projected that 42 percent of the U.S. population will be a member of a minority group by 2050 [PDF], with "minority" defined as people who are races other than white alone or Hispanic.
Parts of Indian Country are abuzz about a story they describe as a hate crime that deserves attention from the mainstream media:
"A member and resident of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota came home from a 14-day stay in the hospital to find he had been horribly mutilated. Three Ks can be easily seen carved or burned into his abdomen in the shocking photograph taken the day after he came home," Evelyn Red Lodge wrote from Rapid City, S.D., Wednesday in Last Real Indians.
"Vernon Traversie, who is completely blind, said his nightmare began when he had a heart attack while at the Heart Doctors office in Rapid City last August. He said they immediately sent him a few blocks away to Rapid City Regional Hospital for emergency surgery.
"Traversie is a 68-year-old Lakota elder who told Last Real Indians, 'I was supposed to have emergency surgery on my heart, but they (hospital) had scheduling problems. Every night they would prep me for surgery which went on for four or five days. Every night they would shave my chest and stomach and wouldn’t feed me.'
"Being blind, Traversie said he didn't even know what was done to him until a RCRH employee came into his room and advised him to have pictures taken of his chest and abdomen as soon as he got home. He says she told him that she could not testify for him, but that her conscience got the better of her and she didn't agree with what they did to him."
Indian Country Today followed up with a story by Heather Steinberger on Thursday headlined, "Was Lakota Man Victim of a Hate Crime in South Dakota Hospital? The Troubling Story of Vern Traversie."
". . . he finally has gone public. In just two days, his YouTube video has been seen by 17,222 people, and a 'Justice for Vern Traversie' Facebook page had 2,348 members at the time of publishing."
In comments beneath the web versions of these articles, readers accuse the news media of burying the story.
Patrick Butler, managing editor of the Rapid City Journal, told Journal-isms by email Monday: "We wrote about this last week. It appeared in our Thursday paper and was posted on our website as well."
He added, "We have reached out to the family and they have declined to talk to us so far. The hospital won't say anymore, citing [HIPAA] regulations," a reference to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which contains privacy provisions.
But Traversie told Journal-isms by telephone Monday that there is no family and he lives alone. "The newspapers in Rapid City and the television stations and the radio stations have blocked out all requests for my story. It's local people passing it on to friends and relatives," he said. "I'm the only one who has the story. I didn't authorize anyone to speak for me."
Why would the local media not want his story told? "They're prejudiced against Native Americans, and they're trying to protect that hospital," Traversie told Journal-isms. "It employs 80 percent of the Rapid City population."
However, he said, on Monday night he was interviewed for two hours by a station in Aberdeen, S.D.
Michael D. Bolden, a local desk editor at the Washington Post, took a buyout and left the paper on Friday, an editor confirmed Monday, while V. Dion Haynes, managing editor of the Post's separately sold Capital Business tabloid, was promoted to real estate editor. He succeeds Sara Goo, who took the buyout.
Bolden and Haynes are black journalists. Discussing the buyouts two weeks ago, the Newspaper Guild expressed concern "that a high number of the participants are Asian, African-American or Latino. By our count, more than a dozen of these Guild-covered employees are minorities, most of whom are black."
Meanwhile, reporter Theola Labbé-DeBose, another black journalist taking the buyout, has accepted a job as director of communications for the D.C. Public Charter School Board, the independent entity that oversees the city's 53 public charter schools, Local Editor Vernon Loeb announced to the staff.
Another African American leaving the news staff is Shauné Hayes, who has been with the News Information Technology department since 2008. She had been at the Post, off and on, since 1996, starting as a copy aide, then layout editor and assistant news editor, a supervisor wrote to the staff.
Fredrick Kunkle, co-chair, News, of the Post's Guild, said in a note Thursday, "it now appears that 28 Guild-covered employees have decided to take the company's buyout offer. Four people have changed their minds and rescinded their acceptance of the buyout offer."
Others of color who have confirmed taking the offer are Joanna Hernandez, a multiplatform editor who is president of Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc.; news aide Stephen A. Crockett Jr., assigned to the Universal Desk, and Kerry Flagg, sports editorial aide; photographer Mark Gail; Tony P. Knott, an assistant news editor; and Lisa Frazier Page, social issues editor on the Local staff. Page is not covered by the Guild.
Dan Beyers, editor of Capital Business, wrote of Haynes in a memo, "Dion played a critical role in the launch of Capital Business, serving as the paper's very first managing editor.
"He took on anything and everything that came his way with grace and good cheer, whether it meant writing and editing stories, crafting headlines or talking up the new paper at countless business gatherings. A former Metro and Financial reporter, Dion oversaw the successful start of our On Small Business Web channel and he has worked tirelessly recruiting a diverse collection of voices for the Capital Business opinion page." Haynes also wrote part of the "Being a Black Man" series in 2006.
Bolden was the Post's development & transportation group editor, according to a bio. "He has been an editor with the Post's Magazine and Style sections and with The Miami Herald. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Online News Association and the National Press Club," it says.
Goo left to become a senior digital editor at the Pew Research Center. "I'm sure Dion will be great as RE editor and I'm sure he will have as much fun as I did with the section and the online content," she told Journal-isms by email.
Florida A&M University and North Carolina A&T State University received good news Saturday from accreditation officials, but a third historically black institution, Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., won only provisional reaccreditation and saw its graduate program denied reaccreditation.
The North Carolina A&T Department of Journalism and Mass Communication was removed from provisional reaccreditation and received full reaccreditation.
Today columnist who has been interim chair, told Journal-isms in an email. "Soon, the university will hire a new chair for the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication and I will have time to figure out what I'm going to do next."
The undergraduate program in FAMU's Division of Journalism received reaccreditation.
The accrediting team report said Dorothy Bland, the FAMU journalism division director, has "strong leadership and management skills and a huge appetite for hard work," according to a FAMU news release. "The team report also gave the division high praise for 'strong relationships with local media and mass communication professionals,' " the release said.
Dr. Mahmoud Braima, chairman of Southern University's Department of Mass Communication, could not be reached for comment.
The accrediting council said the undergraduate program at Southern was out of compliance with the following standards:
The graduate program was out of compliance with these standards:
* Standard 4: Full-time and part-time faculty
* Standard 5: Scholarship: Research, creative and professional activity
* Standard 9: Assessment of learning outcomes
"The Society of American Business Editors and Writers is renewing a push to broaden its diversity efforts in 2012 ahead of its 50th anniversary in Washington and the Unity conference in Las Vegas in August," Talking Biz News reported on Monday.
"The business journalism organization held a committee meeting last week to go over initiatives that include recruiting minority candidates to join SABEW, ensuring that SABEW's board reflects the diversity of our readership and newsrooms, and raising funds for its Five for 50 campaign for five students of color to attend SABEW conferences for the next five years, starting with its 50th anniversary conference in Washington next year.
"The organization is also creating five $10,000 business journalism scholarships exclusively for students who have shown a strong commitment to business journalism, tying each scholarship to a paid summer internship. SABEW is asking major media companies such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones and newspapers to respond to these challenges.
" 'There's a yawning gap between many companies' diversity goals, and the reality you see in most newsrooms,' said Walden Siew, a New York-based editor for Reuters and chair of SABEW's diversity committee. 'SABEW too must do a better job to promote a board and membership that reflects our audience and industry.' "
"Those looking for hints of racial tone-deafness on the second episode of 'Girls,' last Sunday on HBO, wouldn’t have been let down," Jon Caramanica wrote Sunday in the New York Times. "In an early scene Hannah, played by the show’s creator, Lena Dunham, and her nonboyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) have sex; as they're finishing, Adam promises to make the 'continent of Africa on' Hannah’s arm, a vexing intersection of eroticism and geography. Later Jessa (Jemima Kirke), nervously facing down an abortion, insists, 'I want to have children with many different men, of different races,' as if they were trinkets to be collected, like key chains or snow globes.
". . . Television is nowhere near diverse enough — not in its actors, its writers or its show runners. The problems identified by critics of 'Girls' are systemic, traceable to network executives who greenlight shows and shoot down plenty of others. It's at that level that diversity stands or falls.
"And 'Girls' is hardly alone in its whiteness. Far more popular shows like 'Two and a Half Men' or 'How I Met Your Mother' blithely exist in a world that rarely considers race. They’re less scrutinized, because unlike the Brooklyn-bohemian demimonde of 'Girls,' the worlds of those shows are ones that writers and critics — the sort who both adore and have taken offense at 'Girls' — have little desire to be a part of. White-dominant television has almost always been the norm. Why would 'Girls' be any different?"
* Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: It's Bigger Than 'Girls'
* Jason Johnson, Politic365.com: A Black Man’s Take on HBO's "Girls"
* Dodai Stewart, jezebel.com: Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls
* Damon Young, Ebony: Why HBO's 'Girls' Doesn't Need Any Black Friends
Thirty years ago, they fought for a fair chance. Today, there's still work to be done.
By Steven Gray, NABJ Journal
National Association of Black Journalists
September 2002 (edited version)
In August, six former Washington Post reporters met at a colleague's home for a commemoration. Not to mark the 30th anniversary of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, but of a landmark Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint charging the newspaper with discrimination against its black employees.
The case, believed to be the first of its kind against a major American newspaper, unarguably accelerated the hiring and promotion of scores of journalists of color. More important, it helped solidify the role of black journalists in the interpretation of contemporary American history. Yet, it seems the complaint and its significance has been largely ignored. There was no formal recognition of it scheduled at this year's NABJ convention in Milwaukee, where we relished in the ascension of more blacks to top newspaper posts.
African Americans head bureaus in Mexico City, Paris and Johannesburg, while black columnists write on topics ranging from the African AIDS crisis to personal finance. Sure, at first glance, there is much to celebrate.
To the Metro Seven — as the group of black Post reporters came to be known — the struggle for equality in the nation's newsrooms is hardly over, as some wish to believe. Within the complaint's allegations lie stark parallels to scores of issues that still linger. Yet, some of the Metro Seven survived at the Post, in journalism, partly on their own resilience, in the days before there was a deputy managing editor, or even an executive editor, to turn to for counsel. They had nothing but themselves.
Constant challenges for Dash
In 1966, a Howard University student named Leon Dash was working as a copy aide at the Washington Post when then-city editor Stephen D. Isaacs offered him a spot in that summer's intern class. Dash quickly accepted, and was eventually hired as a full-time reporter assigned to cover the District's Metropolitan Police Department. From the beginning, he faced constant challenges from Southern-bred police officers fresh from the Vietnam War, as well as from his own Post colleagues, whom he learned could be "some of your stiffest competition."
Two years later, he left to serve in the Peace Corps, in Kenya — soon after, riots erupted in Washington and dozens of other American cities in the wake of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Editors looked around their newsrooms and realized, perhaps for the first time, the consequences of the absence of people who could penetrate communities of color and authoritatively explain just what was ticking inside Black America's head. And so they plucked reporters from the ranks of black-owned newspapers, then they even recruited police officers, teachers and government officials. Then in March 1968, the Kerner Commission concluded that "along with the country as a whole, the press has long basked in a world, looking out of it, if at all, with the white man's eyes and perspective."
Indeed, The Post realized this, too, and by Dash's return in 1971 had hired several more Black reporters. Among them was Penny Mickelbury, a child of the Civil Rights Movement who just a few years earlier had become the first black reporter at the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald. To Mickelbury, then in her early 20s, the jump to the Post's "large, noisy" downtown Washington newsroom was at first glance daunting, but surmountable. "There were these people who were ephemeral, who floated around in sort of a rarified world," recalls Mickelbury, who was quickly promoted from night police reporter to the District government beat, largely because, she is convinced, editors realized that many emerging black bureaucrats were reluctant to talk to white reporters.
Still, Dash did not see strengthened coverage of black culture in the Post's pages, or significant improvement in the status of the newsroom's blacks, for that matter. White editors, he believed, "didn't see anything extraordinary in that. They thought our development was consistent with our entry into the industry." Dash flatly rejected that notion, and believed black reporters were stifled primarily because of their race. In his own intern class, for instance, he watched silently as a white male Harvard University intern was quickly assigned a story that was destined for page one.
"I didn't see any kind of consideration of that sort given to black reporters. There was a lopsidedness of the trajectory toward becoming a journeyman reporter. . . Blacks were kept at a low level of personal and professional development, and not given any chance to rise above it," says Dash, who received the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism and left the Post three years later to become a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois at Champaign.
Talk of the disparate assignments dominated casual conversations between black reporters. Recalls Richard Prince, then a young Metro reporter, "Black reporters kept asking, 'why did this or that happen? How come Shirley Chisholm's campaign wasn't covered? Why did they close the Africa bureau? Why, on major breaking news stories, were black reporters only assigned to do legwork?'"
Soon, the keen observations turned to formal meetings, and strategizing.
Received unsatisfactory response
In the first week of February 1972, the nine black Metro reporters sent a three-page memo to then-executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee asking, essentially, why there had never been more than a single black reporter assigned to the national desk. Why there were no originating black editors on the foreign, national, sports, financial and style desks. And, among other issues, why were there no Black reporters in sports, and only two in Style?
Why, after Leon Dash obtained information in an unreleased report on halfway houses in the city, was the assignment given to a white reporter?
Within a week, Bradlee issued a memo acknowledging difficulty striking a balance between the newspaper's "commitment to hire, assign and promote the very best journalists we can find" with its "commitment to hire, assign and promote blacks." In addition, he noted The Post "now employs more black editors, reporters and photographers than any newspaper in America." Indeed, of 396 Washington Post newsroom employees, 37, or 9.3 percent, were black; black reporters comprised 17.5 percent of the 51-member Metro staff. Blacks accounted for 2 percent of the staffs of newspapers with circulation of more than 10,000, and 149 newspapers had none.
What is more, Bradlee promised the newspaper would amplify its recruitment efforts, and hire two more black reporter-interns into its fiercely competitive program within a month. And he said the paper had twice offered the District editor job to blacks who declined. The Africa bureau was closed because of financial constraints incurred by the Indo-Pakistani war, he said.
However, Bradlee's five-page response failed to appease the Metro reporters, who'd begun generating support from white colleagues. Later that month, the black Metro reporters demanded that the Post implement a stronger affirmative action program to bolster the number of blacks in virtually every job category to at least 35 percent. Within six months, the reporters requested that blacks account for between 15 and 25 percent of national and foreign, financial, sports and editorial desk staffers. Black copy editors also should be hired in virtually every other section, as should assignment editors, the Metro reporters argued.
"The city of Washington was overwhelmingly black, and I'd guess 35 to 45 percent of the stories in the paper had blacks in them or were about civil rights," says Mickelbury, who left the paper one year later and is now a Los Angeles-based novelist. "So, I don't think it was an unreasonable request. It was an effort to get the Post where it needed to be."
In turn, Bradlee offered to hire even more black reporter-interns, and in the following month appointed Robert E.L. Baker as the newsroom's equal opportunity officer, charged with overseeing the affirmative action plan. In addition, he promised to hire an additional African American reporter to the national staff, a black editor to the Metro desk, and initiate a formal coaching system that would pair senior staffers with cub reporters.
To the Metro 8 (one person dropped out), Bradlee's response was "an insult to our commitment, vague and totally unacceptable." A round of contentious meetings between the Metro reporters and editors followed, ending in an impasse.
"No alternative" to EEOC complaint
Penny Mickelbury had had enough. "I wasn't in the mood for racism. I was disappointed and tired, and I really hadn't come to Washington to put up with the same kind of crap I put up with in Athens," she says. "My tolerance level had peaked."
As it had for black Metro reporters, whose coalition had dwindled to seven.
On March 23, 1972, the Metro Seven — as they came to be known — gathered before a throng of reporters and photographers at Metropolitan AME Church, literally behind The Post's building, and announced they had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint charging the newspaper with "denying Black employees an equal opportunity with respect to job assignments, promotional opportunities, including promotions to management positions and other terms and conditions of employment."
The group said during the news conference that "the complaint to the EEOC represents our belief that this discrimination cannot continue to exist at a publication in a city that is 71.1 percent Black." They added that the discrimination complaint — the first filed against any American newspaper — "came after very much thought, very much consideration. We're very sorry we had to take this step. There is no alternative."
Post attorney Joseph A. Califano told the New York Times that, "The Post feels it is as good or better than any other publication in this country" in the employment of blacks, and that the newspaper had already established an affirmative action program. For the young reporters, all that mattered was ensuring that African Americans had a significant role in interpreting contemporary events in American history, and so any feelings of nervousness were minute — although the risk was great.
Ron Taylor, for instance, had been at the newspaper only four months, and was still on probation when he signed onto the complaint. "I thought it was important. I wasn't going to worry about my career. I could compete with anyone, so I didn't have any real concern about whether I'd be blackballed."
News of the filing triggered a series of columns. They followed one by the Post's ombudsman Ben H. Bagdikian, the first public notice of the negotiations. He wrote that "if The Post is the best, it is still inadequate."
Eventually, as the Post reported, the EEOC commissioners voted against pursuing a staff finding of "reasonable cause to believe" that discrimination existed at the paper. But they gave the plaintiffs a letter entitling them to sue in federal court. The suit was not pursued for financial reasons.
However, it inspired a group of female Post staffers to file a discrimination suit, which the newspaper settled in 1980 with five-year hiring goals. The New York Times settled a discrimination suit by women in 1978, and black staffers in 1980. Newspapers and, indeed, other corporations, implemented affirmative action programs in part to thwart the risk of lawsuits.
In 1978, the American Society of Newspaper Editors adopted an ambitious goal of achieving racial parity in the nation's newsrooms by 2000, pledging that at least 17 percent of newspaper journalists would be of color. Twenty years later, only 12.07 percent of newspaper journalists were of color, though people of color comprised more than one-quarter of the U.S. population.
The Washington Post changed, too. In a region that is more than 42 percent of color — and is projected to be majority-minority by decade's end — 20.6 percent of the newspaper's 640 reporters, editors, photographers, copy editors and information technology professionals are racial or ethnic minorities. In the last five years, there has been increased diversity on the newspaper's foreign, financial and news desks. However, some departments, such as investigative and outlook, remain all white, and there are sharp declines on its sports and metro desk — the traditional entry point for the vast majority of reporters. This decline has enormous short- and long-term implications, acknowledged Milton Coleman, who as deputy managing editor, is the newspaper's highest-ranking African American.
"Given the role that Metro plays in the ultimate staffing of the newspaper, if editors of sections can't turn to Metro to find journalists who've been developed in The Washington Post tradition, it makes it harder for other staffs to diversify," he said.
Still work to do
The Metro Seven remained in contact sporadically over the years, more frequently, lately, through e-mail. Now, they say, it is a joy watching a new generation of black journalists climb to new heights. Ron Taylor, now a copy editor at the Bureau of National Affairs in Washington, pointed to DeNeen L. Brown, who as te Post's Toronto bureau chief has reported from the North Pole.
"I think she does what I'd like to do," he said, "stuff that, frankly, goes where Black people have never been."
Yet, there is still much work to do. Earlier this year, Richard Prince, who returned to The Post part time as a foreign desk copy editor, noticed the newspaper briefed a story about President Bush's appointment of Gerald A. Reynolds, a black lawyer who is a critic of preferences for racial and ethnic minorities, to head the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education. The New York Times ran a full story. "It's those kinds of things that just go past the radar, and shows there's still work to be done."
Will Sutton, a co-founder of what became Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc., says he is saddened by last week's decision to remove "Journalists of Color" from the name of the coalition, which now includes the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.
The National Association of Black Journalists withdrew last year, leaving the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association.
"As co-founder with Juan Gonzalez of what became UNITY: Journalists of Color I am saddened by the news that UNITY won't have journalists of color as a key and primary focus of the coalition," Sutton told Journal-isms Friday by email.
" 'We never envisioned a coalition of associations focused on anything but journalists of color. Though I am disappointed that NABJ is no longer a part of the group, that still left three associations with journalist members of color, members who I am certain care [about] our issues as journalists of color and covering communities of color.
"I have always been encouraging to and supportive of NLGJA as an organization and its members, but this is dead wrong — and it may have nailed the door shut on NABJ returning to the fold."
Gonzalez did not respond to requests for comment.
According to the conventional history of the Unity alliance, as outlined in "Building Unity," [PDF] a booklet prepared for the 2008 Unity convention, Unity has this starting point:
"1986. UNITY’s unofficial beginnings starts with the meeting of Juan González, an active member of the NAHJ, and Will Sutton Jr., an active member of NABJ, as they started comparing notes about their experiences as journalists of color. . . . "
The second milestone took place in 1988, with the first joint meeting of boards of the NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA.
DeWayne Wickham, who convened that meeting, said of the change to "Unity Journalists," "I think it amounts to a final divorce decree. UNITY was a head without a body. It had no membership beyond that which it claimed from the ranks of the groups that spawned it. NABJ correctly severed its relationship with UNITY last year. Now we should use direct contacts with NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA to pursue common interests."
However, Mark Trahant, who was NAJA president at the time of the Baltimore meeting, said by email, "The name change came after my service with Unity — so I don't have strong feelings about it. I liked the simple 'Unity' all along as a statement of where we want to end up. Personally I wasn't keen on adding the journalists of color tag."
Evelyn Hernandez, who was then NAHJ president, and Lloyd LaCuesta, then AAJA's president, did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
[Update: Hernandez replied Wednesday: "I like Unity Journalists. It's lean and efficient for the 21st Century. We know who we are."] [April 25.]
The Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers, annually grants a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship — actually an award — "in recognition of an educator's outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism." The educator should be at the college level.
Nominations, which are now being accepted for the 2012 award, should consist of a statement about why you believe your nominee is deserving.
The final selection will be made by the NCEW Foundation board and announced in time for the Sept. 20-22 convention in Orlando, when the presentation will be made.
Since 2000, an honorarium of $1,000 has been awarded the recipient, to be used to "further work in progress or begin a new project."
Past winners include James Hawkins, Florida A&M University (1990); Larry Kaggwa, Howard University (1992); Ben Holman, University of Maryland (1996); Linda Jones, Roosevelt University, Chicago (1998); Ramon Chavez, University of Colorado, Boulder (1999); Erna Smith, San Francisco State (2000); Joseph Selden, Penn State (2001); Cheryl Smith, Paul Quinn College (2002); Rose Richard, Marquette University (2003); Leara D. Rhodes, University of Georgia (2004); Denny McAuliffe, University of Montana (2005); Pearl Stewart, Black College Wire (2006); Valerie White, Florida A&M University (2007); Phillip Dixon, Howard University (2008); Bruce DePyssler, North Carolina Central University (2009); Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University (2010); and Yvonne Latty, New York University, 2011.
Nominations may be emailed to Richard Prince, AOJ Diversity Committee chair, richardprince (at) hotmail.com. The deadline is May 18.
* The Prime Movers Media program to help high school journalists received a boost Saturday when a video about the program was shown at the White House Correspondents Association dinner for a second year. Dorothy Gilliam, who founded the program after leaving the Washington Post, where she worked for 33 years, said Prime Movers is partnering with the association, bringing D.C. high school students to White House press briefings and correspondents into the high schools or to George Washington University, where the program has an office. Prime Movers operates in 10 District of Columbia high schools and has a second program in Philadelphia, where it partners with Temple University.
* As L.A. Youth, a newspaper by teens for teens, approaches a quarter-century, "it is struggling to hang on," Rick Rojas wrote Sunday for the Los Angeles Times. "The foundations whose grants have long been the primary source of funding have pulled out, and board members who once brought in corporate donations have been laid off, said Donna Myrow, L.A. Youth's executive director."
* "Weijia Jiang, who came to WJZ-TV in June of 2008 as a reporter, is leaving to join WCBS-TV in New York City. Both stations are owned by CBS. New York is the top market in the country," David Zurawik wrote Saturday for the Baltimore Sun.
* "Philip C. Wilkinson has resigned from his position as President and Chief Operating Officer of Entravision, effective May 31, 2012," Veronica Villafañe reported Friday for her Media Moves site. "He'll remain a member of the company's Board of Directors and continue to advise the company on its strategic and operating plans as a consultant. . . . "
* "Our stories, they're longer than what you'll find in other publications, but they're really more like conversations than interviews," senior editor Ericka Boston explained to Donya Blaze for a story on how to pitch stories to Sister2Sister, which targets black women. "Our mission is to try to teach. So, we'll talk to the entertainers about the lessons that they've learned from whatever experiences they've gone through, and it's more so about achieving an understanding, as opposed to just fishing for a headline."
* "I had a little chat with my boss about the previous day's event, and in our last editorial meeting, the privilege of reviewing the papers all through the week preparatory for the next meeting fell on me," reporter-intern Grace Chimezie of Nigeria's ThisDay newspaper wrote Monday, setting the stage for recalling the bombing of three newspapers Thursday that left nine dead. "I felt on top of the world, a poor intern. I browsed through a copy of our publication to see if my story was published. After we got through with the conversation, I went on to check my mail and go through the papers, I was still in my multitask assignments when I had a loud explosion; I found myself on the floor, groaning in pain, apparently dazed. My thought pattern was disorganised. I was dazed and out of this world…"
* "Stop the bleeding. It's a critical and fundamental step in aiding a journalist or anyone wounded in conflict," Lily Hindy wrote Monday for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Hemorrhage is the number one preventable death on the battlefield. And yet large numbers of journalists covering wars and political unrest all across the world are untrained in this life-saving skill. It doesn't need to be that way."
* "Authorities in the Mexican state of Veracruz say the body of a journalist with the national newsmagazine Proceso has been found dead inside her home," the Associated Press reported on Saturday. "The Veracruz Attorney General's Office has released a statement saying Regina Martinez's body was found in the bathroom of her house in Xalapa, Veracruz, and that authorities believe she was murdered. . . . Martinez was the Xalapa correspondent for Proceso, one of Mexico's oldest and most respected investigative newsmagazines, and often covered drug trafficking in her stories."
Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.