of Black Journalists and UNITY
Frequently Asked Questions
Since 1994, the National
Association of Black Journalists has been a strong advocate of the UNITY
coalition. The founders, including a former NABJ president, envisioned that
journalists of color in America’s newsrooms would come together to share the
struggles and accomplishments of our respective organizations.
Over the past 17 years,
the alliance has grown into something that exceeded the expectations of all
partners associated with this experience. However, a recession and record
losses in the news industry have led to a decline in financial support from
media companies and affected all of the alliance partners' coffers.
At the last two
conventions, our members made up 52% of the total convention registrants. Two
years ago, NABJ asked for specific line-by-line expenditures related to the
2008 convention. To date, NABJ has not received such information. We only
received a budget for 2008. UNITY has not passed a budget for 2011, nor is
there a projected budget for 2012, or budget projections for the non-UNITY
years between 2013 and 2015. This is critical because UNITY has asked for a
substantial amount of funding without a sufficient cost analysis that reflects
changes in this economic climate.
Given these issues, NABJ
is seriously concerned about working with UNITY in its current state.
1) What was the original
intention behind UNITY’s creation?
In 1994, UNITY was
established as a not-for-profit alliance of journalists of color.
The alliance includes
the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the
National Association of
Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic
Journalists (NAHJ), and
the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). The four groups come
together every four years for a joint convention coordinated by UNITY.
2) What specific
issues is the NABJ Board working currently to address with UNITY?
The NABJ Board has proposed creating a revenue sharing plan that would provide
greater support for the individual organizations, while simultaneously working
to recommend a new governance structure that includes greater accountability.
concerns regarding UNITY’s current structure include:
- UNITY currently receives
funds from all on-site and non-member registrations at UNITY Conventions. In
2008, this totaled more than $794,000.
- UNITY’s current
governance structure gives all alliance members equal votes on the Board. NABJ,
which consistently brings the most attendees to UNITY conventions, expects to
have a voice more in line with their participation in UNITY events.
- UNITY has grown beyond
its initial purpose of an alliance between the four member organizations, and
now competes for financial support as if it were a separate entity.
3) How many proposals
has NABJ sent to UNITY and how did the UNITY board vote?
NABJ has sent three
revenue sharing proposals and one governance proposal since December. The UNITY
Board tabled the first proposal on December 12, 2010, for more scrutiny. NABJ
submitted its final proposal to UNITY on March 12, 2011. The UNITY Board voted
down two NABJ Proposals, 12-4, with all representatives except NABJ’s voting
The UNITY Board passed
two measures, which were presented 12 hours before the vote, by a margin of 12-4,
with NABJ representatives voting against.
4) What are NABJ's
NABJ is weighing
several options and discussing them with advisors that include attorneys and
convention planners. We are confident we can have a successful NABJ convention
if necessary next year.
We will make a
determination on our participation in the UNITY 2012 Convention at the next
NABJ Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for April 8-9 in Philadelphia.
5) What is the status of the 2012 UNITY convention in Las Vegas?
UNITY is moving
forward expecting that four alliance partners will participate.
6) What is the current
status of NABJ's membership in the UNITY alliance?
NABJ is still an
active member of the alliance.
7) Why not wait until
the Philadelphia convention to address these issues?
If the NABJ Board
waits until August convention to address this issue with its membership, NABJ
would lose a tremendous amount of leverage if its membership feels that it
should not attend the 2012 UNITY Convention. It would be difficult for NABJ to
secure a convention location 11 months before hosting its own 2012 Convention.
8) What is the
potential financial impact of these negotiations on NABJ?
The funding scenario
that was voted on and approved by the UNITY board at the March 2011 board
meeting is as follows (BASED UPON 2008 FIGURES):
The final proposal
that was submitted by NABJ (and ultimately voted down) sought to more equally
distribute monies among partner organizations as follows:
9) What happens if
NABJ pulls out of UNITY 2012?
We are currently
reviewing the implications, both financially and logistically, of hosting an
NABJ convention separate from the UNITY event in 2012. We are confident that
NABJ will be able to
host its own convention and earn much more than it would under the current