NABJ Says Dr. Laura and Media Companies Must Be Held Accountable
WASHINGTON, DC (August 19, 2010)--The following is a statement from
Kathy Times, President of the National Association of Black
Journalists (NABJ) on the recent criticism of conservative talk show
host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for using a racial slur on the talk show:
I will never forget the first time I was called the n-word. In fact,
a young white man in Alabama hit me with a double dose of hate and
called me a n----- b----. It was 2002. It was my first day on a new job
as an invest
igative reporter. It took a few seconds for the full
impact of the slur to hit me. Then, it felt like I'd been sucker
punched in the gut.
I can imagine that is how the African-American caller felt when she
and other listeners heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger use the n-word 11
times... taken aback, shocked, and speechless.
When will people learn it's never OK to use the n-word, no matter
how many times it is uttered in the name of entertainment, sarcasm or
disgust? Instead of helping one of her callers, Dr. Laura chose to go
on a tirade that appeared to reveal deep-rooted thoughts on politics
and black America.
Dr. Laura apologized for using the offensive language. She does not
have the right to use racial slurs on public airwaves. She says she will
not do radio anymore, but there are deeper issues that must be
addressed by the company that syndicates her show - Premiere Radio
Networks. Why wait until the next on-air personality slips up?
Is it time for the n-word and other racial epithets to be added to
the list of seven dirty words (made famous by comedian George Carlin)?
The use of those words hit broadcasters where it hurts them most -
on the bottom line with fines and lost advertising revenue. But the
fear of losing ad dollars should not be the only reason to end this era
of hate on the public's airwaves.
It is past time for a movement to address "Talk Show Hate." As the
president of the National Association of Black Journalists, my goal is
not to change the inherent mindset of provocateurs and consumers of
any controversial media platform, but instead to lead the charge in
forums that educate those who dare to think for themselves. I believe
most people are open to embracing people of all races based on the
content of their character. We invite Dr. Laura and Premiere Radio
Networks to join us in a conversation leading to change in the public
discourse, which both embraces their right to free speech and our
desire to end the use of racial slurs and epithets on the public's
By the way, that young white man who called me those terrible names
eventually apologized and gave me an interview. I accepted the apology,
but I'll never forget the venomous sting that my ancestors must have
felt when their slave masters conjured up the n-word.
San Diego, CA (July 30, 2010) The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) calls upon the top television ownership groups to make more of an effort to improve diversity in their management ranks. At the same time, NABJ is committed to working with these companies to train the next generation of newsroom managers.
In data released today, the 3rd annual Television Newsroom Management Diversity Census shows the need for the development, promotion, and retention of newsroom managers of color. (Download Survey Here)
Newsrooms are encouraged to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. Non-Whites comprise more than one-third of the United States population but the study of 151 stations finds that people of color comprise only 12.6% of newsroom managers.
Out of 815 executive producers, assignment managers, managing editors, assistant news directors, news directors and general managers at the ABC, CBS, Cox, FOX, Gannett, Hearst Argyle, Media General, Meredith, NBC and Tribune stations 713 (87.9%) are White, 64 (7.8%) are African American, 24 (3%) are Hispanic/Latino, 13 (1.6%) are Asian and only 1 is Native American. The management teams at 82 of the stations are all White.
"It is disheartening in 2010 that four of the media companies in the report have no African American news directors and so many of the companies have no black news director in some of the most diverse cities in America,” said NABJ President Kathy Y. Times. "It's time for African American viewers to reconsider their support of media companies that do not appreciate or make diversity a priority.”
NABJ first began conducting its annual census as a way of encouraging broadcasters to commit to hiring more people of color for editorial positions. Still, the association believes true progress cannot be made unless the companies fully commit to developing talent who can then be promoted from within.
"We began meeting with media company executives shortly after the first report was released in 2008,” said study author and NABJ Vice President of Broadcast Bob Butler. "Some of these companies are now reaching out to NABJ for candidates to fill management openings in their newsrooms.”
NABJ also applauds NBC television stations for most closely reflecting the diversity of the nation with people of color comprising 24.2% of the company’s newsroom managers.
That compares favorably to Meredith Corporation where non-Whites comprise only 6 percent of all newsroom managers. Meredith owns 12 stations, some in diverse cities such as Atlanta, Hartford and Kansas City.
Without commenting specifically on the numbers, Meredith Broadcasting Group President Paul Karpowicz said the company is very supportive of NABJ.
"We’d be happy to work with NABJ and we’ll be in San Diego recruiting for when positions open up in our newsrooms.”
NABJ’s leadership hopes to partner with any broadcast group or news outlet that seeks ways to make diversity a priority. It can assist in the recruitment of talented newsroom leaders.
The organization is launching its own Executive Training Program at the San Diego Convention to prepare the next generation of resourceful and innovative newsroom managers and station leaders.