The National Association of Black Journalists Condemns Layoffs by Philadelphia Media Network
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Posted by: Aprill Turner
The National Association of Black Journalists is deeply
disappointed about the Philadelphia Media Network’s decision to lay off 19
journalists and the departure of 21 additional professionals with buyouts today.
NABJ is even more disturbed that Philadelphia Association of
Black Journalists (PABJ) President Sarah Glover was forced to accept a buyout
from the company.
While NABJ acknowledges that media companies are businesses
that face economic challenges, we are perplexed and saddened about the end of Glover’s
tenure with Philadelphia’s daily newspapers.
The former NABJ board member was the sole woman of color
working on the photo staffs of both The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily
News. More importantly, Glover has become a multimedia journalist – providing a
skill set greatly needed in America’s transforming newsrooms.
"The journalism industry as a whole has suffered tremendous
losses during this time in transition,” said NABJ President Gregory Lee Jr. "Newsrooms
suffer greatly when they lose individuals who have the journalistic impact of
Sarah Glover. We view her departure from the Daily News as another unsettling attack
on diversity. She is a leader in the newsroom and the community. She was among
the first photojournalists at the Daily News to develop and hone video skills
that she also taught others. Her departure sends a disturbing message. As I
stated in my President's column in January: Diversity is
a mindset and a business imperative. It is NABJ's job to change the mentalities
of media executives who are not attuned to the economic and moral value of
newsrooms that reflect their communities."
The downsizing dealt an additional blow to sports. The
company laid off John Mitchell, who was hired in November to cover the Sixers.
Mitchell’s departure leaves the Inquirer’s sports department with one full-time
"Through her work, Sarah
Glover has sought to tell a more complete story about the city she covered. The
loss of her perspective, both in the pages of Philadelphia's two major
newspapers and as a leader in those newsrooms, is a tremendous loss for readers
and a blow to our industry," said Errin Haines, NABJ Vice President of
These transactions continue the sad trend of decisions that
indicate that diversity does not matter at the Philadelphia newspapers In
2007, 30 black and Asian journalists were laid off – a disproportionate
percentage of the 71 professionals who were dismissed. Last summer, NABJ founder
Sandra Long was let go, ending a nearly 28-year Inquirer career.
NABJ continues to make the case that diversity is a very
good business decision. This is particularly true for "majority-minority”
communities. According to latest U.S. Census data, 63 percent of Philadelphia
residents are not white.
"We are deeply disappointed and dismayed by the Philadelphia
Media Network's decision to lay off Philadelphia Daily News photographer and
PABJ president Sarah Glover as well as Philadelphia Inquirer sports reporter
John Mitchell,” said Chris Murray, PABJ Vice President for Print. "This is
truly a sad day for journalists of color in Philadelphia and PABJ, a founding
chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.”
Murray continued: "While we are fully aware that we are
living in troubled times for the newspaper business, diversity is a factor equally
as important as seniority when deciding to downsize staff. The lack of diversity,
especially in a city like Philadelphia with a ‘majority-minority’ population,
will have an adverse effect on the coverage of communities of color.”
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.