Print Page   |   Your Cart   |   Sign In   |   Register
News & Press: NABJ News

NABJ Expresses Disappointment Over Lack of Diversity in Presidential Debate Moderators

Friday, August 17, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Aprill Turner
Share |

WASHINGTON (August 17, 2012)The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) issued the following statement on the lack of journalists of color selected to participate in the 2012 Presidential debates:

NABJ is disappointed that the journalists chosen to participate in the presidential debates don't reflect what has become the most diverse electorate in U.S. history.

While we commend the selection of the first woman moderator in 20 years, we find it unacceptable that no journalists of color will be involved. The Commission on Presidential Debates, which announced the selections this week, blamed the omission on "debate arithmetic." Frankly, the math doesn't add up.

There is no absence of qualified journalists of color, or those with experience as debate moderators, such as NABJ Hall of Fame member Gwen Ifill, of PBS.

By excluding journalists of color, the commission failed to satisfy an important public interest given that racial and ethnic minorities will contribute roughly one quarter of the votes cast on Election Day. Any credible analysis has shown that their turnout, or lack thereof, will be a decisive factor in the presidential contest. This year, both presidential campaigns and their parties are devoting more resources than ever to reaching non-white voters. 

Yet the commission has minimized the significance of our nation's changing identity, as well as the role of minority journalists in informing an increasingly diverse public. We believe the commission wasted an opportunity to use its unique platform in a manner that encourages more citizens to participate in the democratic process.

"The commission had a chance to embrace the racial kaleidoscope that the American electorate is fast becoming, and chose instead to remain blind to it," Sonya Ross, chair of NABJ’s Political Journalism Task Force, said. "It is time to end this cyclical charade of treating equally deserving, equally capable journalists of color as if they are invisible, unqualified, or both. I would like to invite the commission, along with leading entities in political media, to join the task force in making a concerted effort to ensure a truly diverse set of presidential debate moderators for 2016."

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. 

Community Search
Sign In