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Posts Tagged ‘Diversity’


A Tribute to Dori Maynard

Dori Maynard, a journalist and champion for diversity in media died this week, and journalists across the country are mourning. They are mourning the loss of a woman who devoted her life to ensuring all voices were heard.

Photo Courtesy: Jackson DeMos, USC Annenberg School

Photo Courtesy: Jackson DeMos, USC Annenberg School

Maynard was the president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, named after her father, Robert C. Maynard, who was former publisher of the Oakland Tribune. He and his wife, Nancy Hicks Maynard, Tribune co-publisher, were the first African Americans to own a major metropolitan daily in the United States.

Journalism seemed to be in her blood. On her mother Liz Rosen’s side of the family, Maynard’s grandfather, Edward Patrick Flynn, was executive editor of the New York Post. Beyond telling stories, Maynard advocated better stories be told by reaching out to underserved communities. She pushed for journalists to make stronger efforts to include more diverse voices in their news coverage.

Maynard was also actively involved in the Society of Professional Journalists, and served on the board for the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

Her friends and colleagues throughout SPJ and SDX are deeply saddened by her death.

“This news comes as a complete shock. How can Dori be gone? What a loss for our profession,” said SDX President Robert Leger.

“She accomplished a lot in a too-short lifetime. I admired her and was proud to serve with her on the SDX board,” said Irwin Gratz, former SPJ President and SDX board Vice President.

“Dori was one of those people who showed up and by showing up made a difference. When I thought she might be too busy, or too involved, or too far away to attend a Foundation board meeting, Dori showed up. I will remember Dori for her passion for diversity in our profession, for her diligence in making a difference, for her advocacy as a human being,” said Steve Geimann, also a former SPJ President and current SDX board member.

George Daniels, Assistant Dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama, met Dori when he was a SPJ Diversity Fellow. Later while serving as the SPJ Diversity Committee Chairman he would invite Dori to be part of the many discussions that came before the committee.

“Though she was based in California, it was nothing for her to get on a plane and fly all the way across the country to engage in an important diversity-related meeting and she gave tirelessly to the efforts to ensure that our media outlets were true to their pledges to make their newsroom staff look like the communities that are becoming more and more diverse,” Daniels said.

Longtime friend Sally Lehrman, a SDX board member, former SPJ Board Member and SPJ Diversity committee member and former chair, admired Dori’s commitment to change.

“Dori’s warmth and passion for her work blended so beautifully in a woman who knew how to talk straight and press for change — and at the same time, listen carefully and thoughtfully to others who had a completely different perspective. She had such a big heart,” Lehrman said.

Rebecca Tallent, journalism professor and SPJ Diversity committee member says Dori left quite an impression on her.

“Dori taught me what it meant to really be tenacious, and how to use that trait in the difficult art of diversity,” Tallent said.

“Whenever I would see her, I would mentally paraphrase the line from the end of the trial in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: Stand up children, a great person is passing by,” Tallent said, ”Lord Almighty – how that woman will be missed.”

Sandra Gonzalez

Sandra Gonzalez

Sandra Gonzalez is former SPJ Diversity Committee Chair, and is a general assignment reporter at KSNV-TV in Las Vegas.

@SandraGonzalez2

sandragonzalezthereporter@gmail.com

Newspaper Headline Points Up Lack of Understanding

Flawed news coverage is always bad form, but the issues in Rapid City, South Dakota points out journalists are not understanding or mindful of Native American issues in stories or headlines.

Did-Native-Students-Stand-600x387

Native News Online

In January, the Rapid City Journal ran a story about some children from the Pine Ridge Reservation being attacked by a crowd during a hockey game for reportedly not standing during the national anthem. The students were attacked with racial slurs, insults and had beer sprayed and thrown at them; the Journal headline on Saturday, Jan. 31 read: “Did Native Kids Stand for National Anthem?” The Journal editors have since apologized for the insensitive headline.

Granted, the newspaper did not condone the actions of people at the hockey game, they even ran a strongly worded editorial calling on people to stop racism. But, the headline was a serious lapse that fails to meet the standards of journalism and points out how thoughtless journalists can be if they do not understand a group of people.

NAJA

Native American Journalists Association

Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) leaders said the regrettable headline represents one of the more troubling examples of irresponsible coverage of Native Americans in recent years.

“The headline fell short of the standards of responsible journalism, as it indirectly suggested that the elementary and middle school students could have been responsible for prompting the harassment,” a NAJA press release reads. “The headline was a result of phrasing that was not well thought out on the paper’s part, and outcry over the headline has been swift in the Rapid City region and beyond via social media.”

In its apology, Journal Executive Editor Brad Pfankuch said the paper “deeply regrets the pain caused by this headline” and said the staff have begun taking steps to responsibly address the situation.

“A justifiable anger has resulted from the headline that appeared in the Rapid City Journal on Saturday, Jan. 31,” Pfankuch said. “It is now abundantly clear that the headline about the National Anthem is troubling to this community and our readers.
“To some, the headline signified that there was a justification for the harassment of Native American students at the Rush hockey game on Saturday, Jan. 24. This was not our intent. There is no justification for such racist behavior. There can never be any justification for the appalling way those students and their chaperones were treated at the game.”

Pfankuch also noted the owner of the suite where the students were sitting, who was not at the game, received a death threat and the paper ran the story using an anonymous source to protect that person and their family. He said if the police provide names of the people responsible for the harassment, the paper will publish the names. Pfankuch also promised NAJA the paper will continue to aggressively pursue the story.

NAJA officers said they appreciate Pfankuch’s prompt attention to the issue and encourage the Journal to continue pursuing the story.

Rebecca Tallent

 

Rebecca Tallent is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Idaho and she serves on the SPJ Board of Directors as a Campus Adviser at Large.

“Fruitvale Station”: Watch, Absorb and Learn

Who’s News is inviting top journalists and journalism educators to share their thoughts on inclusion in the news. Here, public radio journalist Cheryl Devall comments on “Fruitvale Station,” a film that offers journalists much to contemplate.

It took loFruitvale_Station_posterng enough, but I finally did it. My criteria for seeing “Fruitvale Station” were pretty specific, so I didn’t rush out the weekend it opened.

I wanted to enter and leave the theater in broad daylight  – a late night screening would inch too close to bedtime and nightmares. No spoiler alert needed here: The film begins with mobile phone footage of the true nightmare, the shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III at an Oakland, Calif., BART station by a transit cop. The rest of the events early on New Year’s Day 2009 unfold in flashbacks. These help to illuminate the human beings beyond the headlines and protests.

I didn’t want to go to the show hungry. This is not a popcorn movie. Truth is, I didn’t expect my mouth to water as the people in the movie dish up seafood gumbo the way my family also does on holidays.

The laughs, I wasn’t expecting. So much of the banter between Oscar and the people in his circle is just plain funny. So many of the details are gut-level familiar. Shot on location in Oakland, the independent film conveys the texture of African American and Latino neighborhoods everywhere – the street corners crammed with fast-food joints and check-cashing outlets, the modest houses with trim lawns on the outside and well-worn recliners on the inside, the mismatched paint on the walls of low-rent apartments.

“Fruitvale Station,” a Sundance Festival favorite, brought to mind another deliberately paced slice of life from an earlier era, “Nothing But A Man.”

In that low-budget feature from1964, the protagonist wanders from a menial job on a railroad work crew through a succession of situations and relationships trying to establish his place in the world. Neither film offers direct comment on the larger national context – the civil rights revolution in one case, the dawn of the Obama era in the other – yet each drives home its points in powerfully understated ways.

That’s why I wanted to see the newer movie in my own neighborhood, at the theater formerly known as the Magic Johnson multiplex.

Not only because it’s within walking distance from my place. Every show in this theater happens in Sensurround. Audiences talk back to the screen, and during “Fruitvale Station” they weighed in with knowing commentary from beginning to end. Especially the end. Sobs and catcalls punctuated the epilogue text, and just before the credits rolled, somebody proclaimed, “This ain’t through.”

True dat.

The author is a veteran public radio journalist who lives in Los Angeles.

Resources for further exploration:

Racial Profiling Data

Implicit Bias and Law Enforcement

Study on Racial Bias in the Decision to Shoot

Parents Advise Children on “Being Young, Black and Safe”

Tips to Expand Your Source Network and Develop Great Story Ideas

I’ve lived in Knoxville, Tenn., essentially since 1968 and know a lot of people through my work at the News Sentinel. But earlier this month there was a story on four people recognized in the inaugural Latino Awards by Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, and I had only heard of one of them.

Lourdes 001

Lourdes Garza
(Photo:Diocese of Knoxville)

I was introduced to both Hispanic/Latino and border issues when I lived in El Paso, Texas, from 1996 to 1997 and served as editor of the El Paso Herald-Post. El Paso is predominantly Hispanic and Catholic.

In addition, I take to heart the SPJ Code of Ethics, which addresses the need for journalists to report on all aspects of the community and particularly to “tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.” I review the code once in awhile and always introduce it to students when teaching journalism at the University of Tennessee.

It turns out some of the Knoxville honorees are involved in multiple issues affecting the Hispanic community here, offering a route to interesting stories and contacts. I suspect this would be the case for similar award-winners in any community.

One of the Knoxville recipients was attached to the Catholic Diocese. Lourdes Garza, director of Hispanic Ministries of the Diocese of Knoxville, received the Spirit of Inspiration award for helping Hispanic community members integrate into parish life activities.

I had heard Garza’s name, but I didn’t know the other winners: Jose Luis Santiago, De Ann Pendry, and Santiago Cuccarese.

Jose Luis Santiago

Jose Luis Santiago
(Photo: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Santiago received the Spirit of Transformation award for his work with Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville in helping others solve problems in various aspects of their lives. It turns out he also has become active in opposing Knox County’s possible adoption of the controversial 287(h) federal immigration program, in which local and state law enforcement agencies collaborate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Pendry, the only non-Latino to receive an award, received the Espiritu Latino award for working with the Hispanic immigration-rights movement. She teaches courses in Latino studies, migration and trans-nationalism and similar areas at UT.

Cuccarese received the Spirit of Innovation award for his work with MiBanco and with the Bank of Camden, where he serves as vice president. MiBanco is a Latino-centered bank and actively supports the Hispanic community and its businesses. Cucarese is also active with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee.

Santiago Cuccarese

Santiago Cuccarese
(Photo: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Here are some tips to finding similar people in your own communities:

  • The Catholic Church. It’s heavily involved in Hispanic/Latino issues. A starting point for gathering information might be the U.S. Conferences of Catholic Bishops. The organization has a wide network.
  • The Chamber of Commerce. Most communities have a chamber and in all likelihood someone there is familiar with Hispanic businesses or if a Hispanic Chamber has been formed. There’s a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Look over its list of corporate sponsors, including banks. Chances are your local contacts at banks can put you in touch with other individuals and businesses.
  • Universities. There are oodles of resources at institutions of higher learning. In one of my public affairs classes, I needed to know for editing purposes the possession of Muñoz. The AP stylebook didn’t address it. I called a friend who teaches Spanish at UT and she gave me the answer: Muñoz’s. Professors of political science, sociology, religion, business – the gamut – can be resources.

With a little bit of exploration, expanding your sources is easy.

Georgiana Vines is retired associate editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel and an active member of the SPJ Diversity Committee. 

Historic Journalism Conference With Addition of NAHJ

This is going to be one mega-journalism conference! It’s nothing new for journalism organizations to join together for one big convention, but this year history is being made with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists joining forces with the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. NAHJ has never joined forces with SPJ and RTDNA before, for a mega-conference but this year they are all part of the Excellence in Journalism Conference in Anaheim, California.

Journalists learning investigative techniques at NAHJ Conference

Financially speaking, this is a dream come true for me. I am a long time member of NAHJ, but a newer member of SPJ and devoted to both. Since I’m on a budget and in a new job where it’s also not easy to get time off to attend both, this year I get to be at both, all under the same roof along with about 1,400 other journalists. Even better, a journalism conference being held in Orange County, where I was raised and went to college.

As SPJ’s Diversity Chairman, I’m really impressed because three major journalism organizations will be together where diversity can’t be missed, and journalists will be able to see what an important role it plays in our communities and in our coverage.

Learning lighting at NAHJ Conference 2011

 

While I will be spending time with the 2013 SPJ Diversity Fellows, I can’t help but think what a great opportunity this conference will offer them. They’ll be networking with great journalists from all over the country in all kinds of positions whether it’s in management, news-gathering, or independent freelancing; and be absorbing diversity and journalism before their eyes.

“It’s my hope that during this event there will be an interest on SPJ from NAHJ members, and other Latino journalists that are also in SPJ, will see the benefit of such a partnership and the importance of diversity of its own organizations relevant for future growth,” said NAHJ President Hugo Balta.

Members from RTDNA, SPJ, and NAHJ will be intermingled and able to attend sessions and workshops, and still hold their individual award banquets and events.

“We’re just looking forward to what we think is going to be a really successful event,” said RTDNA Chairman Vincent Duffy.

Linda Ellerbee speaking to crowds at Excellence In Journalism/New Orleans 2011

 

“I think that it’s excellent that we’re having this in the western part of the country because the Hispanic population is so significant there,” Duffy said, “Bringing NAHJ in to participate in the creation of the program and at the creation of events, it sort of keeps the diversity issue front and center throughout the whole planning process and I think it will just add to the convention.”

NAHJ is dedicated to the recognition and the professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry, as well as fostering and promoting fair treatment of Hispanics by the media.

RTDNA serves the electronic news profession and is dedicated to setting standards for news gathering and reporting. SPJ promotes the free flow of information and works to protect the guarantees of freedom of speech and press. These two organizations have been working together in recent years to bring the Excellence in Journalism Conference to their memberships.

SPJ President Sonny Albarado is very supportive of this year’s addition of NAHJ to EIJ.

“Mentoring SPJ Diversity Leadership participants reconnected me to my own Hispanic roots and strengthened my commitment to improve the diversity of SPJ’s membership and leadership pool. It seems a natural evolution, then, for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to partner with SPJ and RTDNA at EIJ13 in Anaheim,” Albarado said.

The workshops and sessions are well planned and are tailored for all career levels which is very important to NAHJ President Hugo Balta.

“…training newsroom leaders, behind the camera. decision makers, journalists who are in charge of molding the content, and I think that will help us in expanding the breadth of our programming,” Balta said.

All three organizations are not only looking forward to this new venture but perhaps what the future holds.

The Excellence in Journalism Conference is August 24-26 in Anaheim, CA.

Sandra Gonzalez is SPJ Diversity Committee Chair, Las Vegas SPJ Chapter Secretary, NAHJ member and reporter for KSNV-TV Las Vegas, Nevada.

Journalists visit UNLV: say embrace our own diversity

(Guest Blog by Pashtana Usufzy/UNLV SPJ President)

As president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Society of Professional Journalists, I find myself in charge of planning quite a few events. When the time came to hold our first member meeting of the spring semester, I desperately needed ideas. While clicking on every link on the SPJ website, I ran across a copy of the organization’s mission.

Hoping for ideas, I read through it.

We’d held a meeting on service a few weeks earlier, and a First Amendment discussion seemed a little intense for the first meeting. (“Here’s your pizza and soda. Now, quick, which freedoms are guaranteed by the First Amendment?) I kept scrolling down — “foster excellence … inspire successive generations … encourage diversity in journalism.”

Diversity — now that I could work with.

The topic stood out. UNLV has consistently been ranked as one of the most diverse college campuses in the country. We have students from every walk of life. We represent numerous countries, religions, ethnicities — different genders and sexual orientations. It made sense for our chapter to ask: Where’s the diversity in the local journalism field? What role does that play in the politics of the newsroom, and is our news as inclusive as it should be?

Our board members went to work. We began planning and advertising a discussion on the diversity of our community and our local news market. I invited Antonio Planas of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Chris Saldaña, a local broadcast news personality, to be our speakers.

On the day of, I was nervous. Our meeting didn’t have a huge turnout; I blamed myself for picking a Friday morning meeting date and expecting college kids to be awake. The members who were there, however, wanted to get the meeting going, and our speakers said the students deserved their attention.

We didn’t draw in a classroom full of students, but our speakers made such a tremendous impact upon the students who did attend.

Planas and Saldaña played off of each other so well. They discussed their own experiences as Hispanic journalists covering the news. They talked about missteps by reporters in covering our city’s diverse population, and they told us to embrace our own diversity and bring it to our reporting.

UNLV's SPJ Chapter had broadcast news journalist Chris Saldaña and reporter Antonio Planas visit to discuss diversity in the news.

UNLV’s SPJ Chapter had broadcast news journalist Chris Saldaña and reporter Antonio Planas visit to discuss diversity in the news.

They described efforts to make colleagues aware of potentially offensive characterizations of minorities, but they also described how important it is for all groups to participate in the discussion on diversity.

They asked each student: Who are you, and what kind of diversity do you bring to the table?

I’ll admit it: I sometimes have a hard time speaking up in a newsroom full of much more experienced writers. Saldaña and Planas assured me that my opinion could help shed light on an overlooked group. It’s better to speak up, they said, than to be embarrassed by an inaccurate story or have your news organization appear out of touch.

They emphasized that we as journalists must examine the diversity of our environment, especially in a state with such an increasingly diverse population.

As student SPJ leaders, we try to bring the lessons SPJ emphasizes to the attention of our campus. We want members to get a taste of the professional world, but we also hope they’ll discover a bit of the kind of journalist they’d like to be. Our speakers that day helped us accomplish our goal.

Our attendees stayed afterward to discuss how they felt about the panel. Our small group of students could now raise questions, share its views with others.

Most importantly, the discussion could keep going, and that meant more to us than anything.

(Pashtana Usufzy/UNLV SPJ President organized this event earlier this Spring)

 

SPJ Diversity pleased with AP decision on “illegal immigrant” term usage

The SPJ Diversity Committee is pleased with The Associated Press’ decision to change the use of the term “illegal immigrant.”

However, the Diversity Committee has been behind the issue of dropping the term “illegal” for the past few years, spearheaded by former committee member Leo Laurence. And it was in New Orleans at the Excellence in Journalism Conference 2011 when I witnessed former Diversity Fellow and Vice Chairwoman Rebecca Aguilar address the SPJ board about her mother, who came to the United States from Mexico, and the pain it caused when she saw the term “illegal alien” used in the newspaper.

Rebecca Aguilar addresses SPJ Board about using term "illegal alien". Photo by Sandra Gonzalez

Rebecca Aguilar addresses SPJ Board about using term “illegal alien”.
Photo by Sandra Gonzalez

After hearing Aguilar’s impassioned speech, the voting convention delegates passed this resolution on voice vote:

WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics urges all journalists to be “honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information” and;

WHEREAS, mainstream news reports are increasingly using the politically charged phrase “illegal immigrant” and the more offensive and bureaucratic “illegal alien” to describe undocumented immigrants, particularly Latinos and;

WHEREAS, a fundamental principle embedded in our U.S. Constitution is that everyone (including non-citizens) is considered innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law and;

WHEREAS, this constitutional doctrine, often described as “innocent-until-proven-guilty,” applies not just to U.S. Citizens but to everyone in the United States and;

WHEREAS, only the court system, not reporters and editors, can decide when a person has committed an “illegal” act and;

WHEREAS, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is also concerned with the increasing use of pejorative and potentially inaccurate terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists convention of delegates: urges journalists and style guide editors to stop the use of illegal alien and encourage continuous discussion and re-evaluation of the use of illegal immigrant in news stories.

Prior to this, it had been rejected by the Resolutions Committee.

The AP is now changing how it will describe people as journalists report stories involving the current immigration issue. According to Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, here is what is behind the decision:

The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.

“Journalists and others can argue that the new style recommendation is less precise than ‘illegal alien’ or ‘illegal immigrant,’ but it’s important to note that a significant portion of country’s population regards those terms as offensive.  It wasn’t that long ago that keepers of journalism style, including The AP, fought dropping ‘Negro’ as a term for black or African-American people,” says SPJ President Sonny Albarado.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists also says these terms can be dehumanizing  and demeaning.

“AP is right to note that the English language evolves and that our everyday usage contributes to that evolution. I hope journalists and others continue this conversation about immigration and people who come here legally or illegally until we arrive at terminology most of us can agree on,” Albarado says.

We on the SPJ Diversity Committee agree and hope journalists will eliminate these types of terms from their copy as immigration is a huge issue we will be reporting on this year.

Sandra Gonzalez
SPJ Diversity Committee Chairman
KSNV Reporter
Las Vegas

NBC Shows Diversity Tactic in NBC Latino Launch, Hispanic Brigade

 

I’m glad I was watching Natalie Morales  fill in for Brian Williams last night on NBC Nightly News.  Otherwise, I would have missed news of the launch of NBC Latino.com, a English-language news information and lifestyle Website featuring Hispanic’s perspectives.

“I’ll be a regular contributor along with many of my colleagues,” Morales said as she announced the debut of the site, which is touted as “The New Voice of American Hispanics.”

The announcement appeared in last night’s Nightly News broadcast right after a report on the election of Pena Nieto as Mexico’s new president.

It speaks to the marketing synergy of NBC Universal to cross-promote its media platforms.   The perennial top-rated network evening newscast showcased the nation’s newest spot on the World Wide Web for news about Hispanics, which will be powered by content from Telemundo, which it also also owned along with MSBNC, CNBC and The Weather Channel.

NBC News’ Hispanic Brigade?

NBC Correspondents Gabe Gutierrez, Miguel Almaguer, and Tom Llamas along with Today Show news reader Natalie Morales were all mentioned by name in the news release Monday on the launch of NBC Latino. (Photos: Courtesy NBC News)

 

Beyond the announcement of the NBC Latino launch, what was even more interesting was how the network also used the opportunity to showcase its stable of Hispanic reporters and the Hispanic editor who will be leading the site.

Chris Pena

““The goal of NBC Latino is to take Hispanic news beyond the usual conversation, toward something more inspired, empowered and energized; to tell and reflect the Hispanic-American story with authentic voices, and make NBC the brand of choice for Hispanics across mobile, online and TV,” said Chris Pena, the executive editor,who is leading a staff of bilingual writers and producers.
As a newsroom manager, Pena has come up through the NBC ranks starting out running Telemundo’s news operation in Houston before moving to the company’s Miami’s station, WTVJ and then Chicago’s WMAQ before moving to the network’s New York headquarters last summer.

Some might suggest NBC Universal grew its own in Pena’s success leading to his role at the helm of NBC Latino.

Mainstreaming Miguel

Even as NBC Latino launches, the network has proven that it can place Hispanic reporters on the frontlines covering the day’s top stories, especially when they bring a resume of journalism awards to the table.

While they may contribute to a target website like NBC Latino, these same reporters are already front-and-center on other NBC platforms too.  All too often targeted web sites will be used to grow “second-string”  talent.  That is not the case here.

Miguel Almaguer reported from Colorado Springs on Monday's broadcast.

 

A great example of that was shown last night as Miguel Almaguer, the award-winning  Burbank-based correspondent, presented updates from Colorado Springs where wildfires have claimed dozens of homes.

Almaguer brought lots of experience doing that kind of coverage as he has won awards for similar stories produced during wildfires in San Diego.

Another media company, Gannett, pioneered the diversity principle of mainstreaming  or ensuring news sources of color are used all types of stories.  The same is true for reporters who are assigned to cover all stories, not just those with a focus on race or diversity.

Almaguer has been the lead talent on coverage of the wildfires and did a similar job in reporting on the death of Rodney King last month.

Building on The GRIO’s Success

Along with mainstreaming, NBC Universal has long ago realized the importance of targeting content.     Most recently, the launch in June 2008 of TheGRIO.com as “the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African-Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.”

Beyond the online community, TheGRIO.com offered its GRIO 100 during Black History Month, vignettes on up-and-coming African American leaders in all walks of life.   For at least the past three years, we’ve seen that list of African Americans the site says  “still have work to do.”

Will we see a “Latino 100” or similar set of reports to air during Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month this September?

As the cliche goes, “only time will tell.”

For now NBC’s multi-pronged effort at targeting and mainstreaming stories and storytellers from diverse racial backgrounds reflects a sophisticated strategy its broadcast , cable and online competitors would do well to imitate.

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism and former chair of the SPJ Diversity Committee.  He currently serves as a member of the SPJ National Board of Directors.

ABC News Fellowship: Journalists of Diverse Backgrounds Apply Now

abcABC News is starting a fellowship program aimed at preparing up-and-coming journalists for television news.  The news network plans to choose participants from a variety of different  racial, ethnic, socio-economic and geographic backgrounds. Each fellow will work closely with an experienced ABC News mentor.

I have high hopes for this fellowship.  Kudos to ABC News for making an effort to find fellows from diverse backgrounds.

The chosen fellows will be offered:

  • Rotation among several ABC News departments and broadcasts.
  • Development of editorial, news gathering and production skills.
  • Work closely with assigned news mentor at ABC.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood says the network is committed in recruiting, developing, empowering and promoting the industry’s future leaders.  The news network hopes to start this program on July 2, 2012.

What you need to qualify:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Solid writing skills
  • Shooting and video editing experience
  • Minimum two years experience
  • Proficient in Spanish is preferred

Fellows will be employees of ABC News for one year.  For more information: ABC Fellowship.

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter based in Dallas, TX.  She’s a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and SPJ Fort Worth Chapter. She’s also the vice chair of the SPJ Diversity Committee.

 

Jeremy Lin Story, ESPN Snafu Expose Latest Diversity Challenge for Journalists

UPDATE: ESPN issued a statement Sunday announcing that the ESPN employee responsible for the offensive headline involving Jeremy Lin has  been dismissed and the ESPNEWS anchor who used the “Chink in the Armor” reference last week is now on a 30-day suspension.

The New York Knicks’ winning streak ended Friday night with its 89-85 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but just beginning is an investigation into a headline that ended up on ESPN.com’s  mobile Website about 2:30 a.m.  Saturday.

Depending on how you read four words— “Chink in the Armor,” you might have thought it was a reference to Jeremy Lin, the 23-year-old Asian American Knicks point guard, who has become one of the biggest sports stories of the year so far.

At least one Yahoo blogger, Kelly Dwyer has already outlined some of the issues at play.

This screen capture COURTESY OF Gothamist.com, a New York City web log, shows the headline that was posted and then quickly removed by ESPN early Saturday morning.

“Chink in the Armor” is an old saying referring to a weakness in a structure, but the word “chink” has been used as slang in referring in a derogatory to those of Asian descent.

Not the First Time for ESPN

Sadly, this isn’t the first time the “Chink the Armor” reference has been made on an outlet that’s part of the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Someone posted on YouTube an eight-second clip from an ESPN analyst last month who used the same reference in a question during a broadcast earlier this week.

Are the eight seconds on the air more forgivable than the 30 minutes that the headline was up on ESPN.com’s Web site?

ESPN Apologizes, Investigates

ESPN officials have posted an apology for BOTH incidents, noting that with regards to the latest incident on the mobile site they were determining “appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again.”

You would expect that.

We don’t know what will come from their internal investigation. But, regardless of what happens to the ESPN.com staffer who posted the headline, there are lessons to be learned here.

A Teachable Moment

The circumstances remind us of the importance of ensuring all of our employees are thinking clearly and are cognizant of the meaning and impact of our words.

Yes, it was 2:30 in the morning when the headline went up.  But, as one who for many years worked the overnight shift, I know how important it is even in the wee hours of the morning for employees to be on their game in reflecting the high standards of journalism no when it it is practiced in this age of the 24-hour news cycle.

With diversity as one of our core missions and sensitivity as a component of our ethics code,  the Society of Professional Journalists is always on the lookout for teachable moments from which all journalists can learn.

Beyond the lessons that we have to be careful about headlines that can have a double meaning or racial slurs like “chink,” which violate the part of our SPJ Code of Ethics that says “Minimize Harm,” there should be a newsroom/web site operational structure whereby the internal alarms go off before a headline like this ends up on any news organization’s web site.

The Larger Issue Linsanity Brings

The ESPN headline snafu raises the issue of whether most journalists are prepared to cover a story where the racial or ethnic background of the central figure in the story IS the story.

For journalists, when one’s racial or ethnic background becomes a central component of the story, we have to take the extra mile to check for words we use to describe these figures.

Sometimes our own biases and stereotypical thinking can creep into our copy.

Let ESPN.com’s blunder serve as a wake-up call to the rest of us to seed our writing with sensitivity for those from historically under-represented racial and ethnic groups.

George L. Daniels, a member of the SPJ National Board of Directors, is a former chair of the SPJ Diversity Committee and associate professor of journalism at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.   Read more of his thoughts on BAMAPRODUCER.wordpress.com

 

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