A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Diversity In-Brief

By Quill

NABJ takes action on money problems

In late August, the National Association of Black Journalists agreed to establish an advisory panel that will help monitor the group’s troubled financial outlook. Because of a $500,000 budgetary shortfall caused by Wall Street declines and less-than-expected revenue from its annual conventions in 1999 and 2000, the group has had to cut back on projects designed to increase racial diversity in newsrooms. Leaders of the 26-year-old organization, the largest group of minority journalists, said they hope the panel’s creation is the first step toward mending a rift among their members. “The goal here for all parties was to … ensure the health of our organization long-term,” former board member Jackie Jones, assistant business editor at The Washington Post and an outspoken advocate of the finance committee, told The Associated Press in August. Under the proposal, crafted at NABJ’s 2001 convention in Orlando, the organization will put together a committee to advise the board of directors and provide quarterly financial reports to members. The committee, designed to serve only in an advisory capacity, won’t have the power to veto the group’s $2.5 million budget. “I think it (the plan) will go a long way toward healing,” NABJ president William W. Sutton Jr., deputy managing editor of The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., told the AP. NABJ has 3,300 full-time, associate and student members. Attendance at the group’s annual conventions – which bring in more than half of the yearly budget – has been on the decline for two years. Last year’s convention in Phoenix only brought in about a third of the revenue that the group usually raises, Sutton said. The previous convention, held in Seattle, also resulted in lower attendance than usual – fueling the argument among members that it was a mistake to hold conventions out West when more members live in the East. According to The New York Times, other minority journalist groups – including the Asian American Journalists Association and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists – also say that their convention attendance has decreased. The organizations say media companies are cutting back on sponsoring events and footing the bill for journalists to travel to the annual meetings.

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