NABJ Splits from UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc.

NABJ Splits from UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc.


In a press release this week NABJ, the National Association of Black Journalists, announced they would break off from the alliance, UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc.  NABJ was a founding member of the alliance, which is intended to improve minority representation in the media. Of the split NABJ says,

While [we] remain[s] committed to the coalition’s mission of achieving parity in newsroom employment and accurate coverage of people of color, NABJ board members concluded that as a business model, UNITY no longer is the most financially prudent for NABJ and its membership.

UNITY, which holds a national conference every four years, is made up of members from four national journalism associations — the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association.  NABJ will hold its own convention in 2012 due to the split.

As reported by Tanzina Vega in the New York Times, the black journalists group had proposed that the member organizations receive a bigger cut of the revenue from the conference, said Kathy Y. Times, President of NABJ. According to its Web site, the organization had presented various options to the Unity board. Its final proposal  in March would have increased its share of the revenue to $1.2 million. The funding plan ultimately approved, however, capped its portion at $976,718.

“N.A.B.J. has grown,” Ms. Times said. “The funding that we received under the Unity current business model was not sufficient for us to maintain the level of programming and service that we provide for our members.”

Over the past few years, the black journalists group has been working on diversifying its revenue model.  Ms. Times said it had increased its use of non-media company sponsorships at its annual convention, including corporate sponsors like FedEx, Toyota and Eli Lilly, and nonprofit sponsors like the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

In a statement on the Unity Web site, the group’s president, Joanna Hernandez, said: “I understand that this is a business decision, that the N.A.B.J. board members are doing what they think is best for their organization. And I wish them well.”

In a statement from the Asian American Journalists Association, Doris Truong, the president, said, “We are terribly disappointed that the lengthy discussions involving alliance partner presidents, executive directors and treasurers that began in December 2010 did not result in an outcome satisfying all parties.”

Michele Salcedo, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said in a statement that the “N.A.H.J. is committed to working with N.A.B.J. to create more diverse newsrooms in all media and would welcome its future return as an alliance partner.”

Rhonda LeValdo, President of the Native American Journalists Association,  said in a statement, “We are all saddened at the thought of not having N.A.B.J. a part of the convention.”

The decision to leave the alliance came just days after a report from an American news editors group saying that the percentage of minorities in newsrooms continued to decline last year.