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News & Press: NABJ News

NABJ: An Open Letter to News Media Startups

Friday, March 14, 2014  
Posted by: Veronique Dodson
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The following letter is being electronically delivered today to the founders of several new media outlets, raising NABJ's concerns about a lack of diversity in their early hiring. The Board of Directors has extended an offer to partner with these outlets as soon as possible to encourage a more diverse candidate pool.



Bob Butler

KCBS Radio (San Francisco)

Vice President - Broadcast

Dedrick Russell

WBTV, LLC/ Raycom Media

Vice President - Print

Errin Whack

Washington, DC



Corey Dade

The Root


Keith Reed

West Hartford, CT


Cindy George

Houston Chronicle

region I director

Sherlon Christie

Asbury Park Press

Neptune, N.J

Region II Director

Lee Ivory

Ivory Communications

Region III Director

Gayle Hurd

WPTF-AM/NC News Network Curtis Media Group (Raleigh)

Region IV Director

Vickie Thomas

WWJ/CBS Radio (Detroit)

Region V Director

Mary Benton

KPRC-TV (Houston)


Region VI Director

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig

shades Magazine – Celebrating
All Women of Color

Associate Representative

Dawn Angelique Roberts

KD Communications Group

Student Representative

Khorri Atkinson

York College at the City University of New York



Darryl R. Matthews, Sr.

"An Open Letter to News Media Startups"

March 14, 2014

The journalism world has watched with great interest as a number of digital media startups recently have emerged with promises of being the next game-changer, upending business as usual, disrupting the status quo. Some of these outlets appear to have the potential to produce the next generation of top journalists and thought leaders.

We at the National Association of Black Journalists could not have been more excited. Many of us wondered aloud if this entrepreneurship might also include new and more effective approaches to achieving diversity and inclusion in newsroom staffing and news coverage. After all, these startups will exist primarily on digital platforms, where African Americans and Latinos are proportionately larger consumers of news than whites.

But our excitement has turned to concern as the parade of recent hires hardly reflects a commitment to ensuring that these new newsrooms reflect all the communities they will cover.

While we recognize that the process is still young, NABJ raises the flag now to ensure that diversity is a priority.

Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.

The National Association of Black Journalists, America’s oldest and largest organization for journalists of color, represents more than 3,000 talented media professionals. You probably have worked with some of our members. You no doubt read their work, watch them on television, appear on their programs and compete against them for stories. Our members share your commitment to changing the game and many would like to join you in your new ventures.

Diversity has long been a challenge in legacy newsrooms. The age-old reason given for failed efforts is that managers cannot find qualified candidates of color.

Unfortunately, this refrain already is creeping into the conversation around these startups. And journalists of color are frustrated at feeling shut out of this hiring wave.

Why the disconnect? Simply put, we hardly know each other.

Old relationship networks have become a 21st century club that is predominantly male and almost exclusively white. This club is familiar with, and hires, its own. This has been the trend in legacy media. The same will happen in these new outlets if new relationships are not forged.

NABJ is ready to be a partner in making sure this does not happen. We invite you to talk with us.

In particular, we extend this invitation to our colleagues at Vox Media, First Look Media, The Marshall Project and FiveThirtyEight. We would like to meet with your organizations, both individually and perhaps at a summit, to discuss how we can help each other.

We invite you to attend our next Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for next month. We also welcome your participation at the NABJ Convention & Career Fair this summer in Boston. Our convention features the largest job fair in the industry, as well as an unmatched scale of networking and professional training.

We believe you want to do things differently, and better. It begins with making a real commitment to forming ongoing, proactive partnerships.

Let us head into this brave new world together.


The Board of Directors of The National Association of Black Journalists


:: 1100 Knight Hall, Suite 3100 | College Park, Maryland 20742 ::
:: Phone: (301) 405-0248 | Fax: (301) 314-1714 ::

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