In Alabama, three major daily newspapers laid off approximately 400 employees, many of them in the newsrooms at The Birmingham News, the Press-Register in Mobile and The Huntsville Times.
NABJ has been monitoring developments since these newspapers announced last month that they would end daily publication as part of their restructuring in the down economy. Sadly, NABJ correctly anticipated that this decision would likely impact its members and other journalists of color.
NABJ has learned that several of its members and other black journalists are among those who will lose their jobs at these newspapers. Among those who will be impacted is NABJ Birmingham chapter founding member Eddie Lard -- the newspaper's lone African-American editorial voice -- former chapter president Sherrel Stewart and current officer Roy Williams.
"It is truly a sad moment in the industry as my hometown newspaper, the Times-Picayune and the other Newhouse Gulf Coast newspapers have been hit hard," said NABJ President Gregory Lee, Jr., who worked in the sports department at the Times-Picayune from 1993-99. "The lack of diversity that will be suffered in these newsrooms is unacceptable, and will result in more losses for these companies as consumers will go elsewhere to find news that is truly representative of their community. This digital strategy will have severe impact on access for poor and minority readers in the communities they serve."
Errin Haines, NABJ Vice President-Print, said the organization stands ready to help affected journalists -- including those who may not be NABJ members or even black journalists -- at these newspapers as they transition during this challenging time.
"Even as we begin to see signs of recovery in our nation's economy, we continue to see dark days for our industry, and this is among the darkest," said Haines, a newswoman at The Associated Press. "So many talented and dedicated journalists who have done their part to help sustain these companies are now faced with what to do next, now that they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. NABJ is here, to listen, to help you regroup and try to find you another place in the profession you love."
This news is announced as NABJ enters its 37th Annual Convention and Career Fair, held in New Orleans, June 20-24. As part of the organization's initiative, NABJ C.A.R.E.S. (Career, Assistance, Recovery and Employment Search), NABJ is offering registrations to journalists affected by the cuts at these newspapers to attend the Convention & Career Fair. Dozens of companies will be in attendance to recruit for job opportunities.
Interested journalists should contact NABJ Membership Manager Veronique Dodson, at email@example.com, for additional information and eligibility requirements.
The National Association of Black Journalists in an advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C. It is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide.