NY Times Top Editor Agrees That Diversity ‘Is a Real Issue’

Dean Baquet: “Too often, we are clumsy in handling issues of race and gender and this story was another unfortunate example.” 
National Association of Black Journalists via YouTube screenshot

"On Sunday, the New York Times public editor Liz Spayd wrote a column that cut deep to the bone about the lack of racial and ethnic diversity and the 'newsroom's blinding whiteness,' " Tanzina Vega wrote Monday for CNN Money.


Nicholas Casey, a New York Times correspondent in Venezuela, appears in a Times house ad. "When you explore The Times, you experience the work of journalists reporting from 170+ countries, often putting themselves in harm’s way to tell the full story," the promotion says.

"She described the team that covered the 2016 presidential election as having 'less diversity than you'll find in Donald Trump's cabinet thus far,' and noted that, of the 20 reporters who covered the presidential campaign, just two were black. None were Asian or Latino. The six reporters assigned to cover the White House are also white. . . ."


On Monday, Journal-isms asked Dean Baquet, the Times' first African American top editor, for his thoughts on Spayd's column.

"I think she is right that it is a real issue, one that we have to deal with," Baquet replied by email. "And I've had meetings with staffers to discuss it. But I wish she had dealt more with what we have done over the past couple of years. Not only have we made some significant and very visible hires, we have created lines of coverage that have made us better at covering race, including the Race Related blog. That's not denying The Times has work to do."


Spayd's column also said, "The newsroom’s blinding whiteness hit me when I walked in the door six months ago. It’s hardly a new problem here, but it’s one that persists even as the country grows more diverse and The Times grows more global. The head of that global expansion, Lydia Polgreen, was one of The Times’s highest-ranking African-American editors until she left last week to lead The Huffington Post. Her departure hit the whole newsroom hard, but it was especially a blow to many minority journalists here.

"In the past three months, I have interviewed people across the newsroom about the issue of race (and to some degree gender, which I’ll address in a future column). I’ve spoken with journalists of all racial and ethnic identities, in jobs high and low: white men and black women, editors and reporters, department heads and news assistants. It left me believing there is a level of frustration bordering on anger that would be institutionally reckless not to address. . . ."


Vega said she related to Spayd's observation that the department with the most ethnic and racial diversity was "The news assistants, who mostly do administrative jobs and get paid the least." Vega started her career at the Times as a news assistant. She eventually created a race and ethnicity beat that lasted for about a year. Soon after the beat was eliminated, she left for CNN Money.

Vega proposed steps all media outlets can do to foster diversity and inclusion in newsrooms.


"1. Stop reacting to your lack of diversity in fits and starts and make it a part of your core mission as an organization. . . .

"2. Diversity is not a trend, it's an imperative to make sure your coverage is better, more nuanced and more accurate. . . .


"3. Develop the people you already have by investing in them, giving them high profile projects and supporting them. . . .

"4. Stop thinking there is a certain number of people of color or women you need to hire and thinking you have 'enough.' . . .


"5. Stop telling people you are on a mission to be more diverse so that's why you are reaching out to them. . . .

"6. Groom diverse talent to be able to grow into senior management, editors and other leadership roles. . . .


"7. Newsroom diversity should be intersectional. Hire outside of obvious silos. . . .

"8. Don't forget about class diversity. . . .

"9. Stop focusing so much on hiring 'stars,' the one coveted voice. . . .

"10. Pay attention to how you treat different staff members and confront your own internal biases. . . .


NPR Hires Lantigua-Williams to Head 'Code Switch'

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams

"I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve hired the new Senior Supervising Producer/Editor of Code Switch, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams," Keith Woods, NPR's vice president for diversity in news and operations, announced to NPR staff members on Monday.

"She comes to us from Atlantic Media, where she was Managing Editor of the Next America team for the National Journal and, more recently, a staff writer covering criminal justice for The Atlantic. Juleyka will begin on Jan. 23, and we’ll introduce her around the newsroom throughout that first week.


"She brings to NPR a career’s worth of experience focused on issues affecting all Americans, especially communities of color, with a specialization in criminal justice, including a John Jay College reporting fellowship covering juvenile justice.

"Juleyka helped the Next America team triple the site’s page views, expand its visual and social media footprint, and, most importantly, substantially beef up its editorial output covering demographic changes across the country. She moved on to editing and specialized writing when the company merged Next America with The Atlantic. . . ."


Code Switch is NPR’s cross-platform reporting initiative focused on race, ethnicity and culture.

Black Press Receives Grant From Bill, Melinda Gates

The National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association for black community newspaper publishers, has received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the association announced on Thursday.


"The funding will support a three-year, multi-media public awareness campaign focused on the unique opportunities and challenges of the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)," an announcement said.

Hazel Trice Edney (Credit: George Tolbert IV)

It added, ". . . ESSA, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA) and replaces No Child Left Behind, received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10, 2015. The regulations are administered by the U.S. Department of Education and will go into effect on January 30, 2017.

"With this grant, NNPA will engage its 211-member Black-owned newspapers in more than 70 markets across the country in a campaign designed to heighten public awareness of ESSA, and to focus on efforts and policies aimed at closing the achievement gaps for students of color and low-income students. . . .


In another development, the NNPA News Service announced Monday that it had become the chief subscriber of the six-year-old Trice Edney News Wire "in a partnership that aims to strengthen and empower Black newspapers across the country."

The arrangement marks a return to NNPA by Hazel Trice Edney, who resigned as editor-in-chief of the news service in 2010 with a letter that asserted, "it is clear that my vision for the ethical running of the NNPA News Service is incompatible with that which has been outlined by the board's leadership, which is made up of people whom I highly respect. The differences in principles are irreconcilable."


Meanwhile, citing financial challenges, NNPA last year cut in half the salary of the late George E. Curry, editor-in-chief of its news service, and two of his staff members. Curry and Washington correspondent Jazelle Hunt then resigned.

More Women of Color on Fashion Magazine Covers

"After tallying 679 cover model appearances across 48 top international fashion publications, we found that, when it comes to race, magazine covers were significantly more diverse than in prior years," Cordelia Tai reported Wednesday for thefashionspot.com.


"In 2016, 29 percent of cover models were women of color, a fairly respectable 6.2 point increase from 2015. For context, racial representation on magazine covers rose by 5.4 points between 2014 (17.4 percent) and 2015 (22.8 percent). This figure dwarfs the slight improvements we saw on the Spring 2017 runways, which were 25.4 percent nonwhite — a mere 0.7 percentage point increase over the previous season (Fall 2016).

"To put it more plainly, 482 white models graced the covers of popular fashion glossies in 2016. Meanwhile, only 197 nonwhite faces stared back at us from newsstands. . . ."


“There will never be anyone else like him,” Howard Bingham said in this special video interview for IWC Schaffhausen. “That’s Muhammad Ali. My best friend.” (Credit: IWC Schaffhausen)

Howard Bingham, Ali Photographer, Dies at 77

"Howard Bingham, a close friend and longtime photographer of Muhammad Ali who was also known for his community activism, died Thursday afternoon," Esmeralda Bermudez reported Friday for the Los Angeles Times. "He was 77.


"Bingham died in a Los Angeles hospital. No cause of death was given by his agent, Harlan Werner.

"The renowned photographer, who grew up in Compton, had a low-key, affable personality that opened many doors. He worked for numerous magazines such as Life and Sports Illustrated. He photographed world leaders and movie stars, and chronicled the rise of the Black Panther Party and the day-to-day life of African Americans. He also interviewed James Earl Ray, the man who killed Martin Luther King Jr. . . ."

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