By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair,
Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission held a 2-day workshop: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age? One of the speakers was National Association of Black Journalists President Kathy Times, who stressed the importance of having a diverse workforce, no matter what form journalism takes in the future. “Without diversity, stories and events that are important to the African-American community are less likely to be covered and more often misunderstood. The Obamas’ triumphant FIST bump was one of those moments,” she observed. You can read her entire speech here.
Unfortunately, Times’ point was made glaringly clear in a Dec. 4 post on the Mediaite Web site entitled “A Retrospective: 28 Media Leaders Who Died This Decade.” Writer Danny Groner offered up what he called he “the most prominent members of the media who passed away over the past 10 years.” There was just one problem — not ONE person of color — any color — was included on the list. Names that came up in the NABJ Listserv that members felt should have been on the list included Gordon Parks, Ed Bradley, Michael Jackson, John H. Johnson and Richard Pryor, to name a few.
Former NABJ President Bryan Monroe was one of the first to spot the omission, so he sent an email to Mediaite editor Rachel Sklar. And to her credit, Sklar immediately wrote an apology post, and Groner added the names of Shirley Chisholm, John Johnson, Richard Pryor, Ed Bradley and Michael Jackson. You can see St. Petersburg Times’ media critic Eric Deggans’ take on it here.
But the point is clear — if a person of color had been on staff, maybe these, along with the names of Hispanic and Asian contributors, may not have been missed. It’s important that readers, no matter the color, get a true view of all those who contribute to this thing we call the media.