NABJ Statement on Future of Journalism Senate Hearing

Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, today issued this statement:

On Wednesday, a panel of digital and traditional journalism industry experts testified at a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and Internet Hearing on “The Future of Journalism” about the challenges and successes facing online news aggregators and newspapers today.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has worked on behalf of newspaper journalists for more than thirty years, yet many of our most talented members are rapidly becoming unemployed or leaving the profession out of necessity.

The intellectual property of journalists must be preserved, and NABJ supports any effort that seeks to afford news agencies a greater capacity to retain and compensate black investigative reporters, editors and other journalists while respecting the growth of digital journalism.

NABJ Board Member Charles Robinson, who attended the hearing, told Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) after the hearing that diversity needs to be a part of the overall discussion and a more diverse panel should be part of future discussions. Robinson also told the Senators that NABJ was available to help draft a diversity component of any future legislation affecting the newspaper industry.

The recently released 2009 ASNE newsroom diversity census is disconcerting for revealing that black journalists are losing their jobs at a greater rate than any other ethnic group, but it is especially disturbing that minority ownership or representation in newspapers was not a topic at Wednesday’s discussion.

Of the five panelists, there were no black representatives and only one minority. It is disgraceful that a discussion on Capitol Hill about the future of newspapers can happen without doing more to incorporate the perspectives of America’s increasingly diverse population.

NABJ will continue to work with news agencies, publishers, editors and others to promote diversity and affirm that our members are offered cutting edge training to keep them ahead of the curve.

At the same time, we call on our nation’s leaders to open their eyes to the communities that surround them and ensure that black media representatives have a seat at the table as new legislation is discussed.

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