NABJ Expresses Disappointment Over Lack of Diversity in Presidential Debate Moderators
Friday, August 17, 2012
Posted by: Aprill Turner
WASHINGTON (August 17, 2012) – The
National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) issued the following statement
on the lack of journalists of color selected to participate in the 2012 Presidential debates:
disappointed that the journalists chosen to participate in the presidential
debates don't reflect what has become the most diverse electorate in U.S.
While we commend
the selection of the first woman moderator in 20 years, we find it unacceptable
that no journalists of color will be involved. The Commission on Presidential
Debates, which announced the selections this week, blamed the omission on
"debate arithmetic." Frankly, the math doesn't add up.
There is no absence of qualified journalists of color, or those with experience
as debate moderators, such as NABJ Hall of Fame member Gwen Ifill, of PBS.
By excluding journalists of color, the commission failed to satisfy an
important public interest given that racial and ethnic minorities will
contribute roughly one quarter of the votes cast on Election Day. Any credible
analysis has shown that their turnout, or lack thereof, will be a decisive
factor in the presidential contest. This year, both presidential campaigns and
their parties are devoting more resources than ever to reaching non-white
Yet the commission has minimized the significance of our nation's changing
identity, as well as the role of minority journalists in informing an
increasingly diverse public. We believe the commission wasted an opportunity to
use its unique platform in a manner that encourages more citizens to
participate in the democratic process.
"The commission had a chance to embrace the racial kaleidoscope that the
American electorate is fast becoming, and chose instead to remain blind to
it," Sonya Ross, chair of NABJ’s Political Journalism Task Force, said.
"It is time to end this cyclical charade of treating equally deserving,
equally capable journalists of color as if they are invisible, unqualified, or
both. I would like to invite the commission, along with leading entities in
political media, to join the task force in making a concerted effort to ensure
a truly diverse set of presidential debate moderators for 2016."
An advocacy group established in 1975 in
Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in
the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other
support to its members worldwide.