Black Journalists Association Concerned About Impact

Black Journalists Association Concerned About Impact
Of Downsizing on Newsroom DiversityWASHINGTON

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is troubled over the impact on newsroom diversity as the news media industry continues its steady pace of layoffs, buyouts and downsizing.

At least five Black journalists were among more than 60 newsroom staffers recently let go in the wake of stagnant revenues and a circulation scandal at The Dallas Morning News. The Houston Chronicle is eliminating 10 percent of its work force. The San Francisco Chronicle plans to trim up to 10 percent of its management and support staff. The Tribune Co., owners of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday and The Baltimore Sun, plans to cut more than 200 jobs. ABC News’ downsizing of its Washington bureau resulted in longtime NABJ member Lynne Adrine, an award-winning producer, losing her job. And CNN’s plans to shut down its financial channel, CNNfn, also could affect journalists of color.

“Newsroom diversity is sorely lacking as it is and so we need more Black journalists, not fewer,” said NABJ President Herbert Lowe, a reporter at Newsday. “We cannot afford to set back years of progress. Even during the toughest times, increasing and maintaining diversity must be paramount.”

Black journalists accounted for only 5.4 percent of newsroom staffs at U.S. newspapers, according to the latest study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and 10.3 percent of local television news staffs last year, a figure only 0.2 percent greater than in 1995, according to this year’s study by the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Ball State University.

“These cuts have a real impact on real people,” said NABJ Vice President-Print Bryan Monroe, assistant vice president of news at Knight Ridder. “We only hope our industry can still appreciate and honor the talents of those who have given so much for so long.”



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