A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Diversity In-Brief

By Quill


A public relations firm hired to promote historically black Morgan State University in Baltimore came under fire in the fall for telling students not to show up for a TV commercial with dreadlocks, head wraps, corn rows or braids.

The Associated Press reported that Sahara Communications stated the conditions in a letter that arrived at the university’s theater department. The request outraged many students, who saw it as a blatant attempt to portray a false image of a school where 90 percent of the 5,700 students are black.

Students said two men in the theater department were told they could not be in the ad because of their hairstyles, and a female student was asked to go home and change her hairdo.

While the filming continued, school administrators met with about 20 upset students and assured them that all interested students could participate, said college spokesman Clinton R. Coleman.


Minority journalists are leaving the newsroom because of lack of professional challenge and limited opportunities for advancement, according to a study commissioned by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and funded by The Freedom Forum.

“Journalists of color are not convinced that they have equal opportunities for advancement or that they are being judged by the same evaluative criteria as white journalists,” according to the research study conducted by researcher Larry McGill. “[J]ournalists of color feel strongly that they have made their concerns known, but that they haven’t yet been heard.

“Thirteen studies and 4,800 interviews over 12 years make their point,” the report stated. “Journalists of color feel, with some justification, that the ball is now in the industry’s court.”

ASNE initiated the study, which was released in the fall, after the annual ASNE survey of newsroom diversity found that the number of minority journalists working at daily newspapers fell from 11.85 percent to 11.64 percent in 2000, even though newsrooms hired more first full-time minority professionals than in any of the past 10 years.

ASNE and minority journalists’ organizations are alarmed by the results of the study and have forged an alliance to keep minority journalists in the industry.

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