Wednesday marks the beginning of the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention and career fair.
With Philadelphia as the host city, the organization’s 36th annual conference takes place Aug. 3-Aug. 7.
The gathering is expected to draw more than 2,500 Black journalists. As thousands of writers, reporters, producers, editors and others travel from across the country, some members’ sharing the same concern may not come as a surprise to the organization.
Earlier this year it was announced that the association had decided to end its nearly 20-year alliance with three other minority journalist groups with whom they had partnerships. The partnerships were held through a coalition called Unity: Journalists of Color Inc.
NABJ joined Unity in the early 1990s with the goal of making newsrooms more inclusive. The other organizations involved and with the same goal included the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association.
In recent years, however, the number of minorities in newsrooms has declined, and this year a debate between NABJ and Unity members erupted over how much revenue NABJ and other member organizations should receive as a result of the conference.
“I’m deeply disappointed that what we worked so hard to put together is coming apart,” Walt Swanston, a diversity consultant and executive director of NABJ from 1993 to 1994 and of Unity from 1997 to 1998, told the New York Times.
Similar to many journalism-based organizations, NABJ has been strapped for cash with a decline in advertising support from media companies who have also felt the effects of a struggling economy. In 2001, the association lifted its years-long ban and started to allow alcoholic beverage makers and non-media outlets to advertise with them.
NABJ president Kathy Y. Times told the Philadelphia Inquirer that this year’s theme, “The Power of Now: Claiming Your Destiny” focuses on the challenges journalists are now facing, such as cutbacks and layoffs at traditional news outlets amid the rise of digital media.
Starting in 1973, NABJ has been an anchor for many Black journalists in tough times.
Stay tuned for more coverage on the conference from BET.com.
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