The ex-USDA official will speak at 8 a.m. (PST) at a session called “Context and Consequences,” according to an NABJ release.
Sherrod, a black woman who was formerly the USDA’s director of rural development for Georgia, stepped down after a snippet of a video was aired by conservative media outlets where Sherrod said 24 years ago she didn’t fully help a white farmer because of his race.
It seems Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack rushed to judgment in demanding Sherrod’s resignation, before the full video of her speech in March actually showed Sherrod telling her NAACP audience that she had recognized and addressed her own prejudice. She then recognized the understanding that “there is no difference between us” and eventually helped the white farmer save his land.
Vilsack reportedly offered Sherrod another unspecified position with the USDA, which Sherrod said she would consider.
NABJ invited blogger Andrew Breitbart, who first posted the snippet on his conservative Web site. Breitbart initially accepted the invitation but later declined.
According to NABJ: “The session will focus on how media react to and report news, as well as the influence of new and nontraditional media platforms such as blogs and social media on traditional news organizations.
“The panel will also explore the debate over whether bloggers should be in the same category as journalists who blog as part of their job.
“Kathy Times, president of NABJ, says that bloggers should not be considered journalists. She said that equating them as such is part of what fueled the controversy surrounding Sherrod.
‘This digital age is a landmine,’ said Times. ‘[Sherrod] has come out swinging really gracefully when she could have easily become a victim of the news.’”