NABJ represents not only black professionals in journalism, but students and other individuals working in communications and media-related professions. It offers a variety of quality programs and services to black journalists while actively advocating on behalf of workplace policies focused on enhanced opportunities for advancement in the media marketplace and newsrooms across the country. At the local level, NABJ Detroit supports the national organization’s mission by offering programming and remaining active within the city’s black journalism community.
Drew Berry, President, Baltimore-based Drew Berry & Associates, LLC, is the Executive Consultant for NABJ. In this capacity, he’s in charge of running the national office operations of the 3500 member organization. His experience includes anchoring, reporting, photography, editing and producing media content in various markets across the country.
I recently talked to Berry about NABJ, challenges for people of color with the journalism industry and the organization’s decision to hold its national convention in Detroit next year.
Lee: What is the organization’s mission?
Berry: NABJ provides career development, educational training and networking opportunities through national and local programming. NABJ advocates on the behalf of black journalists. Better diversity in the nation’s newsrooms, especially in the management ranks, results in more diverse coverage and perspectives in news content. More perspectives help to create a more informed community.
Lee: How does NABJ support black journalists?
Berry: NABJ’s commitment is to strengthen ties among black journalists, sensitize all media to the importance of fairness in the workplace for black journalists, expand job opportunities and recruiting activities for veteran, young and aspiring black journalists, while providing continued professional development and training. Additionally, increase the number of black journalists in management positions and encouraging black journalists to become entrepreneurs.
(And) fostering an exemplary group of professionals that honors excellence and outstanding achievements by black journalists and outstanding achievement in the media industry as a whole, particularly when it comes to providing balanced coverage of the black community and society-at-large;
Lee: How does NABJ work with young and aspiring journalists?
Berry: (We) work with high schools and colleges to identify and encourage black students to become journalists and to diversify faculties and related curriculum. NABJ also provides informational and training services to the general public.
Lee: With the advent of technology impacting how news is delivered and consumed, along with a reallocation of resources, what is the state of black journalists compared to say, five years ago? What are overall challenges confronted by people of color within the industry?
Berry: There is a deficiency in the number of black journalists especially when compared to the overall black population in this country. Specifically 4.7% black journalists populate newspaper newsrooms while 10% populate TV newsrooms. The overall U.S. black population is about 13%. According to the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the RTDNA, the numbers of black journalists in newsrooms have not changed much over the last 5 years.
Challenges continue to be populating the nation’s newsrooms with people of color in the numbers representative of their population. The numbers are particularly disturbing among the management ranks.
Lee: Regarding newsroom Diversity, what are your thoughts?
Berry: Diversity continues to be important for all the reasons stated above. Population shifts simply increase the appetite for diversity of perspectives from the general public. The appetite is best served by hiring journalists equipped to provide those perspectives through a variety of standard journalism practices.
Lee: What are the key challenges regarding enhancing Diversity in the newsroom?
Berry: Key challenges include company commitment in terms of recruitment, building talent pipelines and creating an atmosphere or culture conducive to retention.
Lee: NABJ Detroit just landed the national convention next year. Why was the city selected and why is this significant?
Berry: From the advent of the automotive assembly line to the Motown sound, modern techno and rock music, Detroit continues to shape both American and global culture. The city has seen many of its historic buildings renovated, and is bustling with new developments and attractions that complement its world-class museums and theaters. The city offers myriad things to see and do. Detroit is an exciting travel destination filled with technological advance and historic charm.
Detroit is a great big city news town with a very strong local chapter. Detroit’s cultural history, spirit and impressive come back provide a great backdrop for our convention. The city’s access for our members and reasonable costs were also key factors. When NABJ brought its last convention to Detroit 25 years ago, attendance was very good and it attracted quite a few notable news-makers.
Lee: How many attendees are expected to come to the Motor City?
Berry: We are expecting at least 3,000 registered attendees.
Lee: And finally, what can attendees expect?
Berry: NABJ holds an annual convention and career fair each summer with dozens of plenary sessions and workshops for professional development. The career fair draws hundreds of recruiters and is among the best means of finding a job in the industry. The annual Salute to Excellence awards and special recognition honors (Lifetime Achievement, Journalist of the Year, Community Service, etc.) are bestowed at each convention recognizing accomplishments of NABJ members.