KCABJ Newsletter for April 2021

President’s Column

   The year 2020 revealed and reinforced the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

   Diversity in newsrooms has been an ongoing conversation for decades, with little to no growth. Local news outlets like The Kansas City Star and KCTV5 have started the process of hiring more diverse staff to help report the news throughout our community.

   We applaud both media companies for their actions and encourage the others in this market to evaluate whether the demographics of their staffs match the community they serve. Taking it a step further, employers must focus on diversity in thought.

   Each of us has a different life experience, which shapes the way we look at situations, ask questions and tell stories. Oftentimes, news managers encourage their staff to pitch stories that would appeal to the “target market” in any given space.

   The managers will ask staff to think like that target market. What is the purpose of bringing in people from different backgrounds, and then asking them to think the same way?

   Instead, news managers should create an environment where discourse is encouraged and considered when making editorial decisions. News managers must create a space where journalists feel comfortable and safe enough to share their thoughts.

   At the same time, I’m asking my colleagues to offer their relevant perspectives on the topics at hand. Your life experiences shape your unique perspective and can help make news appeal to broader audiences.

   When you share your thoughts, you can help others see what they might not see otherwise. It takes courage to be more than a Black face in a newsroom, but the community needs journalists like us to be a Black voice, too.

   Only time will tell whether the latest push for diversity in newsrooms will pay off. In the meantime, I hope Black journalists will realize how much of an asset they can be to their newsrooms if they speak up.

Respectfully,

Kaci Jones 

KCABJ President

KCABJ News

   KCABJ Membership Committee Chairman Kevin Holmes on March 15 sent to KCABJ members a survey to gauge people’s impressions about the organization as well as where it can improve in services to members and the community.

   At the April membership meeting, KCABJ President Kaci Jones encouraged those on the Zoom call to fill out the survey if they already haven’t. She also said members should send the survey to potential members to get their feedback. It could be a way to expand the organization to include more people in independent media organizations.

   That survey is at
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeRCPiFt3GQ0NjEEq6FLCur3_h41_7gUi-hgRwdxsXuTGzIjg/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0.

   Kaci also reported that KCTV-5 recently had a meeting to report on the diversity of its staff. The numbers were not encouraging.

   More than 85 percent of KCTV-5’s newsroom staff is white. “It’s very telling but not surprising,” said Breland Moore, KCABJ Vice President/Broadcast.

   That closely mirrors national diversity numbers for media companies, according to the latest ASNE Newsroom Diversity Survey.

   “Overall, people of color represent 21.9 percent of the salaried workforce among newsrooms that responded to this year’s Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey. While encouraging, these figures cannot be generalized to interpret the landscape of the U.S. journalism industry as a whole because the survey relies on information collected from a convenience sample of organizations that volunteer to participate,” the 2019 report said.

   In 1978 ASNE set a goal to have the percentage of journalists of color equal the percentage of people of color in the population by the year 2000. The thinking at the time was that it would increase the likelihood that stories of people of color would be more accurately reported and would organically be included more in each news cycle.

   In 1978, people of color held fewer than 4 percent of all journalism jobs. People of color also made up less than 25 percent of the U.S. population. By 1999, it was clear that the ASNE goal was not going to be reached so ASNE pushed the goal back to 2025. Now people of color represent more than a third of the U.S. population and by 2042, they will be the majority in the United States.

   Efforts are being planned to add more journalists of color to the KCTV-5 newsroom staff by 2022. Kaci said the KCTV-5 report should open the door for more Kansas City area media companies to report on the diversity of their newsroom staffs.

   KCABJ members agreed that the diversity of news staffs must include journalists of color as managers.

   As a follow-up to the monthly meeting in February, Kaci told the membership that beginning at the end of the May monthly meeting, a licensed mental health therapist, Tamela Ross, would lead a mental health check-in for members who decide to attend. That Zoom meeting will take place May 8.

   Kaci also said that she was interested in reviving the KCABJ Student Journalism Institute, formerly called the KCABJ Urban Student Journalism Academy. Persons who are interested in being involved should send email to Kaci at kcabj1981@gmail.com.

   KCABJ member Glenn E. Rice, who had headed the program, shared documents used in the past to recruit students as well as the syllabus for the two-week summer course.

   “Local journalism outlets claim they can’t find qualified talent,” Kaci said. “We help teach them. We know they’re qualified because we help qualify them.”

   Kaci reminded members that 2021 is the 40th anniversary for KCABJ, and people should be thinking about how to celebrate the occasion. The organization held a banquet and media awards program for its 25th anniversary, which was well-attended. Kaci suggested watch parties for this year’s NABJ annual convention in August.

   Members should expect more guest speakers this year to add greater interest to the monthly meetings. One might be on the Black and Brown hesitancy to take the vaccines to prevent people from getting the coronavirus. Glenn said it would be a good idea to invite newsmakers to speak to Black journalists.

NABJ News

   In response to the growing number of attacks against Asian Americans in the United States, the National Association of Black Journalists joins with other journalism groups, denouncing the violence and urging “law enforcement to be aggressive in helping bring an end to these tragedies.” NABJ supports the Asian American Journalists Association and asked NABJ members to be sensitive about events and their coverage.

   NABJ is accepting applications for the free #NABJ21 JSHOP High School Workshop, providing an enlightening and informative introduction into the journalism profession. For more information, go to nabj.org.

   Nominations are now open for the 2021 NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards. For more information, go to #NABJ21 Submission & Partner Site – Welcome to the #NABJ21 Salute to Excellence Awards Nomination Site (aievolution.com).

   Nominations are being sought for the NABJ Hall of Fame. For more information, go to 2021 NABJ Hall of Fame Nomination Form (wufoo.com).

   NABJ Special Honors nominations are being sought for the virtual August convention. For more information, go to NABJ 2021 Special Honors Nomination Form (wufoo.com).

   The deadline for each is April 26.

   NABJ last month condemned the behavior of Rob Lederman, a radio host for Cumulus Media’s 97 Rock in Buffalo, New York.

   During a Wednesday morning show segment, Lederman, who has since been fired, used blatantly racist and sexist slurs and comments to describe the skin tones of several prominent Black women. He compared their complexions to his preference of how dark or light he liked his toast.

   His co-hosts, who also participated in the conversation and did not appear to correct his behavior, have been suspended. However, their apparent support of his behavior should also lead to their dismissal.

   “Racism and sexism have no place in our industry,” said NABJ President Dorothy Tucker. “As a company that touts on its website that ‘every voice matters,’ Cumulus must take today’s incident seriously and demonstrate its commitment to diversity. NABJ calls for the Cumulus organization and its affiliates to take immediate action to examine and eliminate what seems to be an accepted culture of racist and sexist attitudes within their organization.”

   NABJ also calls on news organizations to provide resources to Black journalists and communicators to help them cope with the emotional trauma of covering, rewatching and hearing the testimonies in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused in the death of George Floyd. NABJ said in a news release:

   “Covering the trial may also trigger trauma tied to past experiences and previous stories of Black citizens harmed at the hands of police.

   “We urge our members to take advantage of coping and mental health resources made available by their companies and health plans or to request such resources if they are not readily available. We also remind members to turn to one another and the NABJ Family for comfort when things get too heavy and revisit our Coping and Safety Resources link (which includes past mental health and coping webinars) to help with dealing with the various emotions they may be feeling. The link is here: https://nabjonline.org/blog/resources-for-coping-and-safety/

   “Our prayers and thoughts are with all journalists who are carrying a huge responsibility in this defining moment in our nation’s history.”

   CBS’s CEO George Cheeks announced that Peter Dunn, who served as president of the company’s television stations group, and David Friend, the senior vice president of news are no longer employed by CBS.

   NABJ reports that “their departures, as reported by the LA Times, come after the start of an independent investigation into multiple allegations of discrimination and ill-treatment of employees based on race, gender and sexual orientation, as well as pay equity complaints.

   NABJ Vice President of Broadcast Ken Lemon said in a prepared release that “after multiple meetings with CBS leadership about these allegations and our calling for the firing of Dunn and Friend in January, NABJ encourages the company to use this opportunity to immediately bring in permanent leadership, policies and procedures that will transform its reported toxic culture into one that promotes and demands diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at every level of operations at its networks and owned and operated stations.”

   NABJ in a news release congratulated longtime member Kim Godwin on her historic appointment as not only the first Black woman to head ABC News as its president but also the first Black woman to head a broadcast network news operation. She will begin her role in early May 2021.

   “This historic announcement shows what we at NABJ have always known: there are Black executives more than capable of taking the reins of a network operation. We hope this move sends a clear signal to other networks,” said Ken Lemon, NABJ Vice President-Broadcast. “The NABJ Family is thrilled that Kim has been tapped for this position and it is the logical next step for a hard-working news leader. Her appointment opens the door for diversity and inclusion at a higher level. The glass ceiling is broken and must be shattered.”

News You Can Use

   WDAF-TV, Channel 4 is seeking a digital investigative and data producer. For more information go to Digital Investigative & Data Producer (myworkdayjobs.com).

   WDAF-TV, Channel 4 also is seeking a digital producer. For more information, go to  Digital Producer (myworkdayjobs.com).

   KHQA-TV in the Quincy, Ill., area is looking for a Multi-Media Journalist. The responsibilities include reporting, shooting and editing news stories, enterprising story ideas, developing contacts, as well as other responsibilities as assigned. For more information, go to https://edyy.fa.us2.oraclecloud.com/hcmUI/CandidateExperience/en/sites/CX_2002/job/3893.

    KSHB-NBC-TV, Channel 41 is seeking an experienced multimedia journalist. For more information, go to Multimedia Journalist, KSHB (myworkdayjobs.com).

KC People

   KCABJ’s membership increased by one with the addition of Jackson Kurtz, a reporter with KMBC-TV, Channel 9.

   KCABJ member Cortlynn Stark, a breaking news reporter for The Kansas City Star merits congratulations for two things: She was chosen as KCABJ’s new vice president/print and she was named one of 44 “outstanding media professionals picked for this year’s Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education Fellows.” She was selected from more than 140 applicants nationwide and will receive training and a year-long mentorship from the nation’s leading media experts.

   Also, congratulate KCABJ member Cynthia Newsome. She was promoted to senior community relations director at KSHB-NBC-TV, Channel 41. She also will anchor 41 Action News Midday.

   Former Kansas City Star columnist and KCABJ member Jenee’ Osterheldt has been showcasing her talents on ABC’s series “Soul of a Nation.” For more on that, go to The beauty of Black joy, in all its forms Video – ABC News (go.com). Jenee’ is a columnist with The Boston Globe.

   KCABJ member Bianca Beltran told members at the April meeting that efforts are underway to form a chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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