The Key Question
KCABJ members at the August meeting had to answer the key question about the organization, which was founded in 1981. Should KCABJ — after 33 years — continue to exist?
The consensus of persons at the meeting was “yes” because the need is still there to:
* Train and recruit young African American for journalism careers.
* Network and strengthen ties among journalists of color in the Kansas City area and the region.
* Push journalism schools to appoint and retain black professors.
* Sensitize the media to the institutional racism in news coverage and in employment practices.
* Expand the media’s coverage and balanced reporting of events and trends in the black community.
* Become an exemplary group of professionals who honor excellence and outstanding achievements of journalists.
* Prepare black journalists for managerial and supervisory positions.
* Encourage members to report the stories of the black community. Because without us, those great stories will go either poorly told or get left out altogether.
But this year in particular, KCABJ has struggled to recruit new members and continue the programs that have helped the organization fulfill its more than three-decade-old goals. The KCABJ Urban Student Journalism Academy was canceled this year when no students submitted applications for the program annually held for two weeks at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. Only a couple of years in the past has KCABJ had to suspend the academy.
KCABJ members discussed ways to remedy the lack of applicants this year. It includes sending news releases and appealing directly to The Call, The Kansas City Globe, The Kansas City Star and more black churches for news items notifying people about the free program that offers scholarships to the stop graduates who have a sincere interest in journalism. KCABJ members also said more social media should be employed to appeal to students where they hang out. KCABJ members could go to job fairs, college fairs, high school and college journalism programs and classes to appeal face-to-face to students. More direct appeals also should be made to be on “Generation Rap” on KPRS-FM. Efforts this year to get on the radio station were rebuffed.
In addition, KCABJ Vice President for Print Ramanda Hicks said she would check with the company that administers KCABJ’s website to get a cost estimate to enable students to apply online for the program and submit all of the required material via the Internet instead of sending it through the mail. Appealing to each new generation of students has been an ongoing struggle. The Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., school districts used to get a lot of teens to apply. They would fill the program. In recent years, KCABJ has been lucky to have a student from either district. Also, after students did apply, KCABJ had to maintain a stream of correspondence with the applicants just to ensure they would show up when class started. Before that, there were a lot of no-shows.
This year the annual KCABJ Media Awards program was canceled after 22 years because of a fall-off in area news media participation. It may resurface in 2015 in a very different form in which a committee of journalists and community members seated by KCABJ picks the journalists or media company whose work merits awards. That also could bring back the KCABJ Thumbs Down Award for the journalist or media company that has done the most to set back the image of African Americans or other people of color. Area blogs also could get KCABJ’s attention wanted or unwanted attention.
On recruiting new journalists, KCABJ members will meet in September to determine whether to conduct a census of journalists of color in the Kansas City area. If that is approved then letters will be drafted with follow-up telephone calls to those individuals. KCABJ members in addition will vote on whether to allocate money — up to $25 — from the treasury so existing members can take potential members to lunch to appeal to them to join.
The day, time and location of the next KCABJ membership meeting will be announced to members in an email. Ramanda suggested that each member attending try to bring a potential member.
The National Association of Black Journalists held its 39th annual convention in Boston, attracting hundreds of journalists from throughout the country.
NABJ already is advertising its 40th anniversary convention, which will take place in Minneapolis Aug. 4-9 at the Hilton Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Convention Center. The anniversary special is $200 for members and $150 for student members. The offer runs through Sept. 12. For more information go to http://www.nabj.org.
News You Can Use
The Charlotte Observer has an opening for an associate editor on its editorial board. For more information contact Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten at email@example.com or send correspondence to Bratten at P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, N.C. 28230.
KCABJ renewed its nonprofit status with the Missouri Secretary of State. That has been in place since 1985-86 when KCABJ went through an earlier period of reorganization.
Trey Williams, a KCABJ academy graduate, scholarship winner, Kansas City Star summer intern, and Northwest Missouri State University newspaper editor and graduate, is moving to Washington, D.C., next month. For four months he will work for Market Watch, part of The Wall Street Journal. Trey will be covering politics.