Archive for September, 2019

KCABJ Newsletter for September 2019
September 28, 2019

KSHB Troubles

First it was longtime broadcast reporter and KCABJ member Lisa Benson Cooper who was terminated from KSHB, Channel 41 after working at the NBC affiliate for 14 years. Last week, Glenn E. Rice reported in The Kansas City Star that the station failed to renew the contract of Emmy Award winning sports reporter Demetrice “Dee” Jackson.

Like Benson Cooper, Jackson was the second African American, KSHB journalist to file a lawsuit against the station in federal court for race discrimination who then lost his job. Jackson told Rice that several other journalists at KSHB had received at least 60 days’ notice ahead of their contract not being renewed. He, however, was covering a Kansas City Chiefs practice when he was telephoned to return to the station. Once he was back at the station near the Plaza, he was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed and that day was his last.

Jackson, a native of Kansas City, had been with the station since 2013. A spokeswoman with E.W. Scripps Co., which owns KSHB, declined to comment on the case, saying it was a personnel matter, Rice reported.

Jackson had filed a race discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court in May 2018, alleging he was twice passed over for sports director after management led him to think he would get the position.

In court filings, Scripps denied Jackson’s contention, saying the position of sports director was never offered or promised to Jackson at any time, Rice reported on Sept. 26, 2019, in The Star.

Benson Cooper in 2016 had sued KSHB and was fired last year. She lost her discrimination claim but won a retaliation claim.

NABJ News

Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, issued the following statement about the media’s insensitivity about diversity:

“We are disappointed and disturbed about the recent and frequent inappropriate actions and growing use of photos, artwork, language and videos that are culturally offensive and insensitive in today’s media landscape. Many believe the current racial climate may be one driver of what appears to be a surge in such activities. Other times, it is simply ignorance of cultural sensitivities, blatant disregard or a lack of training.

“Unfortunately, we could find ourselves fighting diversity and inclusion-related fires 24/7 because of the ongoing controversy over the insensitive — and often unacceptable — use of images and words. We could do just that as an organization, but we believe a strategic and holistic approach may be a more effective method.

“NABJ addresses these issues and activities in multiple strategic ways. Sometimes a public admonishment, like the CNN diversity issues, is the best move. Other times, we quietly deal with issues behind the scenes as some companies we engage are truly regretful about mistakes and inexcusable lapses in judgment by an employee.

“You may not hear specifics about many of our advocacy efforts behind the scenes because of timing and sensitivities. However, you can rest assured that we are on top of it.

“One key initiative that we are launching under our new administration is forming an NABJ-created diversity training partnership with media companies to help educate management and employees on an array of diversity and inclusion issues. We are excited about this opportunity because it has the potential to have a significant impact on current and future media companies, their employees and the content they create. We will reveal more about this exciting venture very soon. As a part of our strategy, we are also working to revamp and expand our media monitoring committee, which will report on these issues.

“Keep in mind that while permanent eradication of offensive and insensitive actions in the media industry may be difficult to achieve, dramatically reducing such incidents is very achievable when we work together.

“Members and supporters, we need your help! Voice your opinions and address your concerns with your companies. We realize that some people may be uncomfortable with doing that, so part of our diversity and advocacy training — which we will offer to members through webinars, regional events and media institutes — will address how to approach management and colleagues about diversity and inclusion issues in your workplace and beyond.

“We are hopeful that our strategic, multi-pronged approach will yield benefits and changes for our members and our community.

“Stay tuned and know that we are constantly working behind the scenes on the same issues that concern you on a daily basis. I am excited to work with our board, founders, past leaders, members, partners and external groups to accomplish our goals. Together, we will fulfill NABJ’s great and important mission!”

KC People

KCABJ’s membership inched up with the addition of Lisa Benson, formerly with KSHB-TV, Channel 41. She is working on a book, detailing her broadcast journalism career.