Minority journalism organizations under the UNITY alliance came together in support of newsrooms diversifying their environments and news coverage at a workshop held Saturday at the Cronkite School.
About 50 students and media professionals participated in the Navigating Diversity in the Newsroom workshop, exploring issues minorities can face in newsrooms. Hosted by several minority journalism organizations, the workshop had a panel that discussed getting a job in the field and also tried to generate excitement for the upcoming UNITY convention.
“The reason that we gather is for the causes that are really important to our hearts and also to advance ourselves in journalism, in storytelling, and in getting out messages out to the world,” said UNITY President Joanna Hernandez via Skype from Washington, D.C.
UNITY is an alliance of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association, Asian American Journalists Association and National Association of Hispanic Journalists, of which Hernandez is also a member.
The workshop encouraged candid discussions of current hot topics in minority communities, such as CNN political analyst Roland Martin’s recent suspension over offensive tweets and criticism over coverage of professional basketball player Jeremy Lin.
“You still have these controversies coming up in newsrooms as we saw with the Jeremy Lin thing,” said Retha Hill, adviser of ASU’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. “So there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
A panel made up of Yvette Roeder, public relations specialist with the city of Phoenix and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; Stacy Sullivan, food, dining and wellness editor at the Arizona Republic editor; ABC 15 News Managing Editor Andy Ramirez and Univision News Director Juan Villa talked about changes in their newsroom environments and gave tips on how to enter the workforce as a minority journalist.
“You hear all the bad news about buyouts, layoffs, and furloughs and all these things, but the good news is we’re just transitioning,” Sullivan said. “We’re not going away. We’re transitioning into a new type of organization.”
Today, news organizations are looking for reporters who can do more than just write or do a live shot, said panel moderator Sue Green, ASU’s National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association adviser and national board member of UNITY. Being a multimedia journalist is key to success in the field, especially as the news media has drastically changed in the last few years.
“People don’t have one job anymore. You have to be skilled in multiple things,” Green said.
Because job opportunities may arise through contacts, Green stressed the importance of an event like UNITY to connect with a diverse group of people, from reporters to top executives, with whom you wouldn’t normally be able to network.
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association President and journalism senior Anthony Dewitt said that the ASU student chapter tries to provide several networking opportunities locally and nationally, and he values workshops like this because of their unifying matter.
“It’s showing that we’re able to work together and really learn about covering issues that people don’t usually talk about,” Dewitt said. “I think it helps students feel more comfortable to know that there’s a place or people to go to if they don’t feel like they belong.”
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