Journalism Industry Responds to Floyd, Social Justice and NABJ Advocacy
The tragic death of George Floyd continues to have a far-reaching impact on America. It fueled awareness of Black Lives Matter and a myriad of advocacy initiatives, including those of the National Association of Black Journalists. The acute awakening of America to the serious issues of social and corporate injustices has prompted many companies, organizations and individuals to examine their positions, conduct and how they address crucial subjects, including diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
NABJ has held numerous meetings with industry leaders to advance Black journalists and fair and accurate coverage. Companies are responding by hiring high-ranking and mid-level Black managers in key positions to partially address huge historical disparities in the employment ranks. People who have been recently promoted include Tina Sturdevant, Director, Talent Diversity & Inclusion at The Athletic; MSNBC President Rashida Jones; Miami Herald Executive Editor Monica Richardson; Bervette Carree, WTVD-TV News Director; Dawn Davis, Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appétit; Jameel Rush, Philadelphia Inquirer Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Rochell Sleets, Director of Content at Chicago Tribune. Several others have earned senior masthead stripes and seek to drive a more inclusive culture throughout their companies. We’ve tracked some of the recent hires here, and will continue to add to the list.
This is not just the right thing to do. It makes good business sense in a variety of ways, including the expansion of audiences through a larger palette of content and potentially increased revenue opportunities. The momentum is obvious.
With these hires, on the surface, it appears we are headed in the right direction. But it’s tough to know without seeing the actual numbers. As journalists, we seek data to support findings in our stories. Yet, media companies are reluctant to share their diversity data making it difficult to measure success.
We need much more than a flood of well-timed publicity releases from news organizations. We need transparency about staff diversity, pay disparity and hiring efforts. We need ongoing communication and consultation about coverage issues. We need stepped-up participation in internships, mentoring and job fair programs. We need greater efforts to identify and rein in outlets and individuals with terrible track records on diversity and a history of supporting prejudice.
The recent creation of beats devoted to racial issues and elevation of deserving journalists of color at major news organizations is welcome, and something NABJ has advocated for many years. But it is only the first step on a long road towards boosting equality in news media, not a final destination.
We believe the time has come for additional major steps in the diversity, equity and inclusion arena.
Through our Media Watchdog committee, we will seek the support of Congress to sponsor a bill that would require broadcasters to report diversity numbers to the Federal Communications Commission.
At the same time, we commit to:
- Push for mandatory transparency in company employment with specifics on race, ethnicity and gender.
- Publish the names of companies making progress in the diverse employment ranks
- Publish the names of companies who are hiding the specifics of company diversity
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Service,
Dorothy Tucker/NABJ President/ CBS Chicago Investigative Reporter/@Dorothy4NABJ