KCABJ Newsletter for June 2020

KCABJ Members

Please look for an announcement soon via email of a KCABJ membership meeting. The goal will be to bring members together to determine what issues members may want to take on in 2020 and to possibly elect new officers.

KCABJ Treasurer Bette Tate-Beaver will send out the email notice of the time, day and location. There are some updates that members will receive only at the meeting about KCABJ’s finances, P.O. Box change, website and non-profit incorporation status.

KC People

The membership of the Kansas City Association of Black Journalists grew by three with the additions of Kaci Jones, a reporter at KCTV5; Breland Moore, a sports anchor and sports reporter at KCTV5; and Harold Kuntz, a sports anchor at Fox 4. Each is committed to recruiting new members for KCABJ. Please make our new members feel welcomed.

NABJ News

Ahead of the virtual National Association of Black Journalists/National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention Aug. 5-8, people will have an opportunity to have their resumes reviewed by news outlets. Go to https://www.nabjcareers.org/registration/?user_group_id=JobSeekerLogIn. People with questions can send them to Journalismnext.com.

As protests and some unrest have occurred throughout the country following the Minneapolis police killing of unarmed African American George Floyd, so have police attacks on journalists doing their jobs just covering the news. The National Association of Black Journalists issued a statement in May condemning “the arrests of CNN crew members, including reporter Omar Jimenez, who were simply doing their jobs and covering protests in Minneapolis…. They were handcuffed and led away by state police during a live shot even after Jimenez identified himself as a CNN reporter.

‘“It was unnecessary, and a violation of the First Amendment,’ NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said.

“Jimenez and the crew members were later released. Minnesota’s governor apologized for the arrests while intervening to get the journalists released. In a Twitter post, CNN pointed out that while a person of color was arrested, a white reporter also on the ground was not.”

The ongoing protests of police killings of unarmed black men included another statement from NABJ this month:

“The Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed headline “Buildings Matter, Too” is an offensive attempt to play off the Black Lives Matter movement.

‘“Even vaguely suggesting a parallel between the loss of buildings and the loss of lives is inappropriate and insulting,’ National Association of Black Journalists President Dorothy Tucker said.

‘“The Inquirer did include a sub-headline that said buildings ‘ … can be rebuilt but lives are forever lost. But that doesn’t mean they will be.’ The sub-headline does not erase the insensitivity shown by publishing such a headline.

“The headline ignited a storm of criticism on social media. The headline has since been changed two more times: ‘Black Lives Matter. Do Buildings?’ and (as of 6:30 p.m. ET) ‘Damaging buildings disproportionately hurts the people protesters are trying to uplift….’”

NABJ appealed to all media outlets to fully engage with NABJ and other journalism organizations of color. “This obvious mistake further punctuates the need for diversity across the board in the nation’s newsrooms, particularly in management and decision-making roles. Perspectives and sensitivities must be recognized and become part of the fabric of newsroom cultures.”

More Pennsylvania troubles prompted an additional statement from NABJ:

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is greatly disturbed by developments at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

NABJ’s local chapter, the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation (PBMF), is closely monitoring the situation and put out a statement regarding developments The PBMF statement is at http://pbmf.org/alexisjohnson/. That statement in part said:

“The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation is outraged by the removal of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist Alexis Johnson from any engagement with covering the social justice protests unfolding in Pittsburgh and around the world that are related to the police murder of George Floyd.

To deny the African American reporter the opportunity to cover this news removes an opportunity for the Post-Gazette to present a more fair, nuanced and informed portrait of what is happening in local communities.

More so, the Federation is baffled by the management’s justification used for removal. Johnson’s social media communications was from her private Twitter account. It was there that she raised a question and offered a comparison that challenged stereotypes. There was no malicious bias and nothing to suggest her reporting would be compromised or slanted if she continued telling the story of the protests. The Federation is in sharp disagreement with the action taken by the Post-Gazette’s managing editor.”

NABJ President Dorothy Tucker added that the association “is strongly against silencing the voices of those who bring unique and objective perspectives to coverage. We believe that hiring and supporting a diverse group of employees are critical steps that all media organizations should be taking in practicing excellence in journalism.”

NABJ’s statement went on to say it calls on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to assess its policies including those associated with social media while improving the management of employee relations.

“All employees, including Black employees, deserve to be heard without retribution for opinions that may differ from management’s viewpoint. NABJ and PBMF look forward to discussions regarding these issues.”

Yes, there is racism in the news media. NABJ issued the following statement, targeting ABC:

“NABJ is appalled at the allegations of discriminatory hiring practices and treatment of Black employees by a powerful ABC News executive, as detailed by Yashar Ali with the Huffington Post. Yashar’s story can be found here.

“We call for ABC News/Disney to immediately launch a transparent, external investigation led by a diverse law firm to examine all of the allegations detailed in the report, while conducting a thorough review of ABC News Executive Barbara Fedida, and the talent department that she has run at ABC News.

“NABJ calls on ABC News to waive its confidentiality agreements with any Black employees and other employees of color, and permit prior and current employees to speak on the record absent of reprisals if they choose to do so.

“This external investigation by ABC News should be transparent, and all findings must be published and broadcast. This is appropriate because Fedida was no second-tier executive. This top ABC News executive wielded arguably the most power at the network in determining the fates of Black employees in terms of hiring and contracts. The careers of many at ABC News, as well as their future advancement, was literally in her hands.” NABJ:

— Demands that there be immediate redress for those who have been wronged.

— Want an African American to be put in charge of the network’s diversity-in-hiring program.

— Insists that ABC News/Disney hires an outside consultant to assess the culture, work environment and policies at ABC News.

“In 2019, NABJ met with the senior leadership of ABC News, which at the time had no senior Black news executives above the rank of executive producer. They subsequently hired Marie Nelson, SVP Integrated Content Strategy.

“We at NABJ are calling for a meeting with the top leadership at ABC News immediately, and we would like for top leadership at Disney to be present as well.

“We strongly advise media companies to engage with NABJ regarding its formalized Media Diversity Blueprint built for organizations struggling with or in denial about diversity issues among its employment ranks.

NABJ also has issued a statement on capitalizing “Black”:

“For the last year, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has been integrating the capitalization of the word “Black” into its communications.

“However, it is equally important that the word is capitalized in news coverage and reporting about Black people, Black communities, Black culture, Black institutions, etc.

“NABJ’s Board of Directors has adopted this approach, as well as many of our members, and recommends that it be used across the industry.

“We are updating the organization’s style guidance to reflect this determination. The organization believes it is important to capitalize “Black” when referring to (and out of respect for) the Black diaspora.

“NABJ also recommends that whenever a color is used to appropriately describe race then it should be capitalized, including White and Brown.”

In other NABJ news, the association and the NABJ Sports Task Force accepted $100,000 from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The money will go to the NABJ COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist both sports and non-sports journalists whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The donation was made in honor of two former Dallas Mavericks beat writers, Roger B. Brown and Martin McNeal, who each passed away recently.

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