Plenty to learn, cover one year after Freddie Gray

I’m in Baltimore this morning getting prepared for the National Association of Black Journalist’s Region 1 conference here, “One Year After Freddie Gray: Navigating Social Justice in Journalism.”

There has been an incredible effort by NABJ Region 1 director Johann Calhoun and conference chair Nicki Mayo to put on a fantastic program. And the conference team has put out all the stops for folks coming to town. There’s a reception tonight at Nancy by SNAC. The town hall tomorrow is packed with civic leaders like Baltimore Police Chief Kevin Davis, Baltimore NAACP chapter president Tessa Hill Aston and activist DeRay Mckesson. And we have great programs for everyone to enjoy, including both social media and Google tools workshops that’ll certainly offer actionable skills in addition to our great panels.

All of this, of course, comes one year after the death of Freddie Gray and the turmoil in Baltimore following massive protests and civil unrest. Charm City has a new presumptive mayor in Catherine Pugh and there has been much ado about reconciliation in the community. That’s what we’re hoping to explore and the role journalists play when tragic events like this occur.

For journalists in Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Virginia, there’s still time to register and get here for Saturday’s full slate and cover this story. Find out more here:

Congratulations to Bob Butler, new president of NABJ

Bob Butler
Bob Butler
I was very happy to hear that Bob Butler, someone I’ve known now for more than six years, was elected as the president of the National Association of Black Journalists on Friday.

Bob is a well-respected journalist, but he’s also a tireless supporter of NABJ and an advocate for black journalists in newsrooms across the country. He’ll fit right in as leader for the association following Greg Lee’s tenure, my former colleague at the Boston Globe and the current Sun-Sentinel executive sports editor.

With the backdrop of two national stories so closely related to the African-American diaspora — a black president and the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial — it is more important than ever to have a strong association that pushes for fair coverage on the airwaves, in print, and online. Bob not only understands that, but he has the connections to start those hard and uncomfortable conversations right away.

In my humble opinion, NABJ will be just fine these next two years.

A big congrats to Greg Lee

Greg Lee Jr., the senior assistant sports editor for the Boston Globe and a dear friend of mine, was elected as the President of the National Association of Black Journalists.

At 37, Greg is the youngest NABJ member voted to be president. With 294 votes, he bested his nearest competitor by a wide margin (the runner-up tallied 168 votes) in a three-way race.

As I’ve said before here in this space, I support Greg not just because he’s a friend but because of the hard work he puts into this industry and his constant advocacy for journalists of color. With a solid head on his shoulders and a knack for financial prudence, it was clear to see why the organization’s members overwhelmingly supported him as well with their votes.

So, again, good luck Greg. There’s a lot of work to do.

Good luck Greg

Greg Lee Jr.
Part of what I do for my 9 to 5 is write about sports, shoot videos and edit this very popular website. I also do a little bit of editing and website maintenance on the side for the National Association of Black Journalists. I don’t do nearly as much as I should, as my job takes precedent, but I am involved with the organization more than a lot of regular dues paying members.

In fact, I’ve been penciled in as the Vice President of the Boston Association of Black Journalists. (More on this later … probably way later.) I’m the former, and very brief, president of the Sacramento Black Journalists Association. (A month after I was voted in, I accepted my job in Boston.) So I have an outward but intimate understanding of the goings of the national organization. It helps that the Globe’s Sr. Assistant Sports Editor Greg Lee Jr. is the organization’s treasurer and is now running for the association’s presidency, something I support.

So I say all this because it is an election year, and Greg, who I consider a friend, is the best candidate going forward. I helped launch his website today, and I’ll likely help him maintain it going forward.

So good luck to Greg. But mostly, stick it to ’em.

Post LeBronapalooza – The Decision dissected and analyzed at NABJ

A view of Pacific Beach in San Diego, Calif.

Editor’s note: I really wish I could have gotten this up earlier. I had mucho technico problemos with the audio. But I still think the discussion in San Diego, Calif., is pertinent for any and all interested parties.

There were a number of newsworthy moments at the National Association of Black Journalists convention and career fair (July 28 – Aug. 1). But none was more important to me than the discussion of “LeBronapalooza.” Also known as, “The Decision.”

NABJ compiled a stellar assortment of its own members, most of which were at the forefront of coverage and decision-making, for a panel on how the ethical quandary arose. That being how the World Wide Leader simultaneously covered LeBron James while being quasi business partners with him as he announced his decision to some 18 million viewers that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.

At issue was ESPN’s ceding control of the advertising spots on the show, which many journalists are still outraged about. I wrote about that here.

It’s not the first time NABJ’s Sports Task Force, chaired by my colleague Greg Lee Jr., has addressed hot topics with newsmakers at NABJ conventions. (Unfortunately, Mr. Lee was unable to attend. And Mr. James was missing as well.) Michael Vick and those dogs comes to mind. But this discussion brought out all the heavy hitters. On the panel were ESPN reporters Chris Broussard and J.A. Adande, Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears, Miami Herald Heat writer Mike Wallace, Managing Editor of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer Debra Adams-Simmons and Comcast Sportsnet New England’s NBA writer A. Sherrod Blakely.

Each had a unique take on the development and coverage of the story. But with all of these great perspectives, what really lacked was an executive’s take. You know, an editor.

Oh wait, NABJ had that too.
Continue reading “Post LeBronapalooza – The Decision dissected and analyzed at NABJ”

2010 NABJ conference in San Diego

The view from my room at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, Calif.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — I’m in San Diego for the National Association of Black Journalists convention and career fair. It’s an opportunity for journalists and public relations specialists of the 3,000 member organization to gather for fellowship, discussion, brainstorming solutions for the industry, and promote a healthy dialogue centered on diversity in the media.

There are a couple of common questions people ask about NABJ every year, usually centered around the need for a black journalists organization. The unfortunate quip I hear too often is that “there isn’t a white journalism organization.” (To which many reply, there is: The Society of Professional Journalists.) Or, “we have a black president, so what’s the point?”
Continue reading “2010 NABJ conference in San Diego”

Working with the Sacramento Black Journalists Association

I was recently elected to be the president of the Sacramento Black Journalists Association at our members’ Sept. 3 meeting. It’s not something I take lightly because I am now the caretaker of the organization.

Because of this honor bestowed upon me, I’m now on a mission to invigorate the base membership of the association and in turn provide value to the greater Sacramento valley with another strong organization that represents a minority-based group, dedicated to fairness and accuracy in the media.

Being involved in SacBJA, much like the National Association of Black Journalists, has its benefits twofold: The interconnectedness of its members is invaluable when networking and the camaraderie of our colleagues provides a cloak for refuge. From my experience, it is both a service and familial organization.

What doesn’t change from chapter to chapter with NABJ, is the association’s watchdog role on the media. Again, demanding fairness when covering blacks and minorities alike. But there’s also a never-ending pursuit to better ourselves as journalists through professional development and an unwavering support for young journalists of color who hope to break into a transitioning industry.

This is part of our core beliefs. I’ve been given a huge responsibility to hold that up for the Sacramento area and I’m looking forward to it for the next year.

Kathy Times Named President of NABJ

Bob Butler and Deirdre Childress elected vice presidents, CNN’s Roland Martin elected secretary

TAMPA, Fla. — The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) today announced that Kathy Times has been elected the 18th President of the 3,200-member organization. Also elected to serve for the 2009-11 term are Vice President-Print Deirdre Childress of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Vice President-Broadcast Bob Butler of KCBS Radio in San Francisco.

Times, an anchor for WDBD-TV in Jackson, Miss., won the election with 325 votes or 57 percent of the vote, defeating opponent Angelo Henderson, a Radio One Talk Show Host, writer and president of Angeloink, LLC.

The election results were announced at a 6 p.m. press conference following the closing of the polls at the Tampa Convention Center, site of the 2009 NABJ Annual Convention and Career Fair. More than 1,300 votes were cast by eligible NABJ members in this year’s election, conducted online between June 8 and 5 p.m. today.

“This next Board will pick up the gauntlet at a historic moment in journalism’s evolution,” said Melanie Burney, NABJ Elections Committee Chair. “These individuals will help to lead our organization to the new frontier of journalism.”

Times, who completes a term as Vice President- Broadcast, replaces current President Barbara Ciara, managing editor/ anchor for WTKR in Norfolk, Va., whose term in office ends Sunday.

“We have a lot of work to do and I want to say to you that we will hit the ground running,” Times told a packed room at the Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina in Tampa where the election results were announced. “Advocacy is part of our mission, it is what we do, it is what we are about.”

A total of 12 Board members were chosen by the membership to lead the organization for the next two years. Board members re-elected for a second term in uncontested races include Treasurer Gregory Lee, Parliamentarian Tonju Francois, Region III Director Ken Knight, Region V Director Cindy George, and Associate Representative Aprill O. Turner.

Winning re-election in a contested race was Region I Director Charles Robinson and winning a first term in Region IV was Keith Reed. CNN analyst Roland Martin was elected secretary in another contested race.

Georgia Dawkins, a student at Florida A&M University, was elected Student Representative. No candidates ran for Region VI Director, which will be appointed by the new president upon taking office.

Editor’s note: I am a full member of NABJ and the Sacramento Black Journalists Association.

Study Shows Diversity Fell in Television Newsroom Management in 2009

A release from the National Association of Black Journalists:

Second annual report by black journalists’ organization finds broadcast companies slow to improve diversity

TAMPA, FLA. – AUGUST 6, 2009 — The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Television Management Diversity Census released today reveals a discouraging lack of diversity in top tier newsroom management at seven of the nation’s major broadcast companies.

The census is a study of the ethnic make-up of news managers with editorial control at 111 stations owned by ABC, CBS, FOX, Hearst Argyle, Media General, NBC and Tribune. News managers are defined in the study as executive producers, managing editors, assistant news directors, news directors and general managers.

The 2009 census found that of 548 managers employed at the stations, only 65 or 11.7% are people of color. Last year’s study of stations owned by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC found that there were 61 managers of color at the companies’ 61 stations, or 16.6%. This year that percentage fell to 15.8%.

NABJ President Barbara Ciara, speaking at the opening ceremony of the NABJ Annual Convention & Career Fair in Tampa, characterized the results as disappointing considering the large talent pool of skilled black journalists available.

“These results should be a wake-up call to media owners who say they are serious about diversity in management,” said Ciara. “At the end of the day, we find the number of African Americans who actually have the ability to hire or influence content falls woefully short of the desired goals.”

NABJ shares the mission of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) in advocating for parity between the nation’s newsrooms and the communities they serve. This study, like ASNE’s April newsroom employment census did for newspapers, demonstrates that minorities lag far behind in decision-making roles at television stations.

“This is not about the economy costing black journalists their jobs,” said NABJ Region VI Director and report author Bob Butler. “When you have 111 stations and in those stations you have 65 managers of color, that’s not because of the economy. That tells you that there weren’t many there to begin with.”

The study also found that the economy was a major reason cited for cutbacks to newsroom positions, but that diversity was also adversely affected.

“I think to a certain extent the old boys network still exists in television,” said Butler of the challenge for current hiring managers to incorporate more diversity into management. “The manager will hire someone who he or she knows and will be less likely to hire somebody they don’t know.”

Ciara encourages the companies used for the study to consider NABJ as a resource to achieve a diverse population in their newsrooms.

“We have a huge talent pool of experienced media professionals within our organization,” she said. “All we have to do is connect the dots.”

The full 2009 NABJ Television Newsroom Management Diversity Census is available by visiting

Editor’s note: I am a full member of NABJ and the Sacramento Black Journalists Association. For the 2009 Television Management Census, click here (.pdf).

Prepping the Sacramento Black Journalists Association for a night out

I’ve yet to write about the Sacramento Black Journalists Association because it is still shaping up. There are many hurdles for the organization to go through. For starters, the organization needs to work its way to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit, formulate and sustain an active leadership group; and create a robust calendar of events that both serve the Sacramento region and Sacramento area journalists of color. Oh, and the Web site is down so that needs to be fixed.

It’s a tall order getting things going, and the process has been in the works since 2007, with more than a bit of a hiatus occurring between 2008 and 2009. But there is renewed hope for the association, which touts 50-60 members, including myself. This Thursday, SacBJA will be having a mixer at Table 260 in Sacramento. It’ll be an opportunity for the organization to reach out to old members and new members alike, broach the platform of the organization and jumpstart folks before they head off to the National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 5-9.

If you’re reading and interested, you’re welcome to join us on Thursday as we speak on the state journalism, mingle and prep for the future.. The event is listed on Facebook, and here are the particulars:

Know and Go
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2009
Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Table 260
Address: 826 J Street, Sacramento, Calif.