by Tene’ Croom, Special to the NNPA
“It’s become, I guess, in vogue not to worry about diversity and use the economy as an excuse for not having diversity. But, where was that excuse 20 years ago when the economy was rolling well and all newsrooms were flush with cash and the numbers still were bad?” Those fiery words are from Greg Lee, President of the National Association of Black Journalists or NABJ.
He’s speaking out about the lack of diversity in network television newsrooms and major magazines across the country.
Lee lamented the circumstance in a letter to NABJ members. The letter was entitled “Industry Wide and Industry Wise: Diverse Newsrooms Matter. He wrote how in December of 2011, after NABJ member Steven Gray left Time magazine there were no Black correspondents. Lee also pointed to the January 2012 edition of Forbes Magazine ‘list of 30 media members under 30’ with no black names on it. The article touted the 30 people were “changing the game.”
Lee was asked what was going on. He replied, “People are so accustomed to their own circles. For an industry that is supposed to be about reflecting America, they don’t. That’s just the reality of the situation.
For all the stuff that they report on, inequities in their own jobs, for their own careers and stuff, they don’t apply the very things that they write about or report about in those types of stories within their own newsrooms. The industry has become very hypocritical when it comes to that type of stuff. It’s as if when they criticize other people, they’re not open to criticism on their own selves. They can’t look themselves in the mirror.”
He had a lot to say about Russ Mitchell and his decision to leave CBS, where he had co-anchored the Saturday edition of “The Early Show” and go to Cleveland to anchor the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts; as well as CNN weekend anchor T.J. Holmes jumping ship and going to BET, where he’ll anchor a news show and have more roles there.
Lee uses their departures to make some critical points. “Twenty years ago I would have looked at what Russ Mitchell and what T.J. did and say it could be a mistake. But, given what’s going on in this environment I totally understand where they’re coming from in terms of not getting the opportunities they want to fulfill their careers.
So I think that those two departures, leaving those networks, had to be more about self respect, more about wanting to make a real difference in the lives of others when they report stories in journalism and their being more fulfilled. I think that we’ll see more of those types of departures from these cushy network jobs or cushy big medium jobs to go to places where you get more fulfillment, more of a say, more of a voice and feel like you’re being heard.”
NABJ is doing more than just talking about what they consider the abysmal diversity numbers in newsrooms. They have statistics to back up their claims. With the help of the Benton Foundation, the media group released a study on diversity at the 2011 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Weekend.
The NABJ’s 4th Annual Television Newsroom Management Diversity Census found that according to the 2010 United States Census, non-Whites comprise nearly 35% of the U-S population but the study finds that people of color fill only 12% of the newsroom manager positions at stations owned by ABC, Belo Corporation, CBS, Cox, Fox, Gannett, Hearst, Lin Media, Media General, Meredith, NBC, Nexstar Broadcasting, E.W. Scripps Company, Post-Newsweek and Tribune.
The study also ascertained that out of the total of 1,157 managers, 1,017 are white, 81 are Black, 42 are Hispanic, 16 are Asian and 1 is Native American.
It’s clear that NABJ is not just reacting to statistics; they’re working on being proactive as well. Lee is planning in the coming weeks to make what he calls “advocacy visits” to major media outlets. He says he wants to reintroduce them to NABJ and to let them know they can’t afford to not have diversity in their newsrooms even when the economy is poor and managers are cutting down their news departments.
Lee elaborated on what he’ll be doing when he hits the road. “I’ll be speaking to different CEOs at different companies, different editors at different organizations and let them know that this behavior is not acceptable and NABJ will be loud and we will be bold. Quite frankly I have been in management for a long enough time and been in this industry for a long enough time to hear and see that every part and segment of this industry is doing the same thing. It’s different words, but it’s the same techniques. I’m tired of the excuses. I will talk tough because the reality is that tough talk is real. There will be consequences for their lack of action.”
For complete details about the NABJ diversity census sponsored by the Benton Foundation go to benton.org.
Lee was elected President of NABJ at the 2011 NABJ convention. He is senior assistant sports editor of the Boston Globe.
Tene’ Croom is President of Tene’ Croom Communications. Reach her at email@example.com or www.tenecroom.com
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Sunday Monday TuesdayPartly Cloudy90/70Partly Cloudy90/68Clear88/70
- May 2013 (26)
- April 2013 (32)
- March 2013 (37)
- February 2013 (31)
- January 2013 (43)
- December 2012 (33)
- November 2012 (40)
- October 2012 (42)
- September 2012 (35)
- August 2012 (50)
- July 2012 (41)
- June 2012 (37)
- May 2012 (43)
- April 2012 (38)
- March 2012 (35)
- February 2012 (43)
- January 2012 (36)
- December 2011 (45)
- November 2011 (43)
- October 2011 (36)
- September 2011 (45)
- August 2011 (29)
- July 2011 (13)
- June 2011 (18)
- May 2011 (15)
- April 2011 (14)
- March 2011 (18)
- February 2011 (14)
- January 2011 (15)
- December 2010 (16)
- November 2010 (13)
- October 2010 (13)
- September 2010 (15)
- August 2010 (10)
TagsAlabama New South Coalition ANSC Bingo disbursement Black Farmer Lawsuit CEO Luther"Nat" Winn CFO Paula Bird Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell Dr. Martin Luther King Eutaw City Council Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA) Federation of Southern Cooperatives /Land Assistance Fund Fund First Lady Michelle Obama George Zimmerman Greene Co. Sheriff Joe Benison Greene County Board of Education Greene County Commission Greene County Commissioner Greene County High School Greene County School System Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison Greene County Superintendent Dr. Emma Louie Greenetrack Greenetrack Bingo Inc John Zippert Jr. Lester Brown Mayor Hattie Edwards Mayor Pro-Tem Hattie Edwards Mayor Raymond Steele Mitt Romney NAACP Nick Underwood President Barack Obama President Obama Rev. Al Sharpton SCLC Senator Hank Sanders Superintendent Emma Louie Superintendent Isaac Atkins Supreme Court The Black Belt Community Foundation BBCF Grants Trayvon Martin Vice President Joe Biden