More than 4,000 reporters, editors and multimedia professionals are meeting in the nation’s capital
One day after opening ceremonies, the NABJ/NAHJ convention gets down to business with workshops and lots of networking. Photo credit: NABJMonitor.com
WASHINGTON, DC — Black and Hispanic journalists matter.
That was the message conveyed Wednesday to an audience of media professionals at the opening ceremony of the joint conference of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Citing statistics that illustrate demographic changes in this country that put households composed of a person of color among a growing majority in America as well as a continuing need to report on inequality, NABJ president Sarah Glover and NAHJ president Mekahlo Medina told conference attendees that the role of diverse journalists in American newsrooms is more important than ever.
“We are at a critical place in our history and it’s imperative that we voice our opinion to the status quo,” Glover said. “I hope you all are empowered over the next four days to diversify your newsrooms.”
“Our organizations have worked to prepare our members your newsrooms and I’m tired of excuses, he said. “Tonight I challenge newsrooms to do more and be more.”
Journalists of color totaled about 22 percent of graduates with degrees in journalism or communications between 2004 and 2014, but fewer than half of the graduates found full-time jobs, compared with two-thirds of white graduates, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.
“Let me take a selfie of us so that when they say they can’t find us, I can show them the proof,” opening ceremony host Byron Pitts teased as he and co-host Maria Hinojosa introduced speakers, sponsors and awardees. They also welcomed D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional delegate, who expressed greetings on behalf of the nation’s capitol.
In addition to fighting for a seat at the table in newsrooms leadership in both organizations enlisted Holmes Norton to help research whether minority-owned media organizations are fairly represented in government media buys.
Holmes Norton told members that she has followed up on NABJ and NAHJ requests for a report on the amount of federal advertising dollars that have gone to minority-owned media organizations.
A similar report published in 2007 found that of five major federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services and NASA, only five percent of federal advertising dollars went Black and Hispanic owned media, Norton said.
The conference, which ends Sunday, continues today at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel.