Former NABJ President Kathy Times Questions Latest Newsroom Diversity Strategies

Speaking at conference in Birmingham Saturday, Kathy Times, a former broadcast journalist and president of the National Association of Black Journalists, questioned some recent efforts by some of the nation’s broadcast newsrooms to emphasize a “diversity of thought” in their hiring while the number African Americans, Latinos and other underrepresented groups is dropping. .

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Kathy Y. Times, in 2010, was national president of National Association of Black Journalists. She was among those who launched NABJ’s Annual Diversity Census.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.– On the 50th anniversary of so many landmark events in civil rights history. Kathy Times has returned here to the epicenter of the movement where she once was a working broadcast journalist and posed some important questions about the media industry’s commitment to diversifying its newsrooms.

The former president of the  National Association of Black Journalists has noticed a trend toward newsrooms recruiting individuals who bring a so-called “diversity of thought,” but who may not necessarily increase the number of people of color in the newsroom.

Where people of color are employed as anchors at broadcast or cable news networks such as CNN or NBC,  they are often relegated to weekend or second-tier positions.

“To see us go backwards when we are supposed to be going 50 years forward is changing the entire landscape of what you see on the news,” Times said.

She was among the panelists at the “Standing on Their Shoulders” Conference sponsored Saturday by the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists.

Historically, a key goal of newsroom diversity has been increasing the number of racial minorities (African American, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans) not only in on-air positions, but also in key management roles.

Times was quick to note, she’s not opposed to bi-racial individuals or those who bring other types of diversity to the newsroom being hired.  But, that should not be at the expense of hiring African Americans, Hispanics, or other under-represented racial groups.

“It’s important to have those bi-racial opinions.  We have a bi-racial president today,” Times said.

Times’ visit this Saturday was a bit of homecoming to the same media market where she was an investigative reporter at WVTM (now called “Alabama’s 13) from 2002 to 2008.

In 2009, she was the main anchor of a start-up news operation at the Fox Affiliated station in Jackson, Miss, WDBD-TV, a position she held for just over two years.

Today, in addition to media consulting, Times is the Chief Operating Officer and one of the founders of Where2Go411.com, an e-destination and mobile app designed to grow the black business class.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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