NABJ: An Open Letter to News Media Startups
Friday, March 14, 2014
Posted by: Veronique Dodson
The following letter is being electronically delivered today to the
founders of several new media outlets, raising NABJ's concerns about a
lack of diversity in their early hiring. The Board of Directors has
extended an offer to partner with these outlets as soon as possible to
encourage a more diverse candidate pool.
KCBS Radio (San Francisco)
Vice President -
WBTV, LLC/ Raycom Media
Vice President -
West Hartford, CT
region I director
Asbury Park Press
Region II Director
Region III Director
WPTF-AM/NC News Network Curtis Media Group
Region IV Director
WWJ/CBS Radio (Detroit)
Region V Director
Region VI Director
shades Magazine – Celebrating
All Women of Color
Dawn Angelique Roberts
York College at the City University of New
INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Darryl R. Matthews, Sr.
"An Open Letter to News Media
March 14, 2014
The journalism world has
watched with great interest as a number of digital media startups recently have
emerged with promises of being the next game-changer, upending business as
usual, disrupting the status quo. Some of these outlets appear to have the
potential to produce the next generation of top journalists and thought
We at the National
Association of Black Journalists could not have been more excited. Many of us
wondered aloud if this entrepreneurship might also include new and more
effective approaches to achieving diversity and inclusion in newsroom staffing
and news coverage. After all, these startups will exist primarily on digital
platforms, where African Americans and Latinos are proportionately larger
consumers of news than whites.
But our excitement has
turned to concern as the parade of recent hires hardly reflects a commitment to
ensuring that these new newsrooms reflect all the communities they will cover.
While we recognize that the
process is still young, NABJ raises the flag now to ensure that diversity is a
Allow us to reintroduce
The National Association of
Black Journalists, America’s oldest and largest organization for journalists of
color, represents more than 3,000 talented media professionals. You probably
have worked with some of our members. You no doubt read their work, watch them
on television, appear on their programs and compete against them for stories.
Our members share your commitment to changing the game and many would like to
join you in your new ventures.
Diversity has long been a
challenge in legacy newsrooms. The age-old reason given for failed efforts is
that managers cannot find qualified candidates of color.
Unfortunately, this refrain
already is creeping into the conversation around these startups. And
journalists of color are frustrated at feeling shut out of this hiring wave.
Why the disconnect? Simply
put, we hardly know each other.
Old relationship networks
have become a 21st century club that is predominantly male and almost
exclusively white. This club is familiar with, and hires, its own. This has
been the trend in legacy media. The same will happen in these new outlets if
new relationships are not forged.
NABJ is ready to be a
partner in making sure this does not happen. We invite you to talk with us.
In particular, we extend
this invitation to our colleagues at Vox Media, First Look Media, The Marshall
Project and FiveThirtyEight. We would like to meet with your organizations,
both individually and perhaps at a summit, to discuss how we can help each
We invite you to attend our
next Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for next month. We also welcome your
participation at the NABJ Convention & Career Fair this summer in Boston.
Our convention features the largest job fair in the industry, as well as an
unmatched scale of networking and professional training.
We believe you want to do
things differently, and better. It begins with making a real commitment to
forming ongoing, proactive partnerships.
Let us head into this brave
new world together.
The Board of Directors of The National Association of Black Journalists
:: 1100 Knight Hall, Suite 3100 | College Park, Maryland 20742 ::
:: Phone: (301) 405-0248 | Fax: (301) 314-1714 ::