Celebrating Two Journalism Educators Who Advocated For Diversity

This week we remember both Chuck Stone and Marian Huttenstine as journalism educators and for they did to open the doors for others. Their work must continue.

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It’s funny how important a single encounter with a person can be.

On Sunday, two retired journalism educators, with whom I had only a single brief encounter passed away.  But, regardless of how well I knew them personally, Marian Huttenstine and Chuck Stone are noteworthy models for the trails they blazed as journalism educators and for the diversity they brought to the media.

They both leave legacies for what it means to make “DIVERSITY” an action word.

Fortunately, two institutions where they taught– the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continue Stone and Huttenstine’s legacies today with initiatives aimed at high school students.

Much has been written about Chuck Stone, one of the founders of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), of which I am a member.  He was our first national president.

But, many may not know about the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media, a summer workshop for rising high school senior that began in 2007.

Chuck Stone was the first president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Photo Courtesy: UNC
Chuck Stone was the first president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Photo Courtesy: UNC

Glimpse of Chuck Stone at Work

While I can’t call Mr. Stone a personal friend or even an acquaintance, I did have the occasion to see him at work at his office in the old Howell Hall (former site of the UNC School of Journalism) in the late 1990s.

At the time, I was just a visitor on the beautiful Chapel Hill campus checking out prospective Ph.D. programs in mass communication.   Seeing the legendary Chuck Stone as he worked with a UNC student in his office was a highlight of my visit.

Ironically, UNC also factored  into my path from working journalist to journalism professor through another person.

Dr. Huttenstine received her PhD. from the University of North Carolina.   She taught media law for many years here at University of Alabama, where a few years after she left, I ended up in my first full-time job as a faculty member.

Back in 2004, I had the good fortune of meeting her on the 20th anniversary of the Multicultural Journalism Workshop, which she started with then graduate student Marie Parsons, who went on to be the first director of the workshop and a member of the faculty.

Hundreds of students have come through this workshop that is now in its 31st year.  As a graduate of a similar Dow Jones News Fund workshop back in the 1980s,  I know firsthand what a difference it can make in a high school student’s career planning.

Huttenstine: Opening Doors for Female Administrators

The only photo I have of Marian Huttenstine was of her on our 25th anniversary program for the Multicultural Journalism Workshop.
The only photo I have of Marian Huttenstine (lower right) was of her on our 25th anniversary program for the Multicultural Journalism Workshop in 2008.

Even Stone and Huttenstine both passed away on Sunday, Dr. Huttenstine may not make the national headlines the way that Professor Stone has this week.   But, her impact through her creation of the Minority Journalism Workshop in 1984 had just as much impact as Stone’s as one of the founders of NABJ.

Huttenstine is credited with having the idea for MJW (now known as the “Multicultural Journalism Workshop”)   A decade ago, the editorial board of the Tuscaloosa News recognized the importance of such an idea, that has been sustained for three decades.

She’s also among those who opened the doors for women to eventually to serve as leaders of academic units like our own College of Communication and Information Sciences.  Long before the University of Alabama would have its first female president (Dr. Judy Bonner), there was the Capstone Women’s Network (CWN).

CWN was started in 1980 as one local effort here at University of Alabama to respond to the national call to expand and improve the opportunities for women to be in administrative decision-making posts.

After her stint on the faculty at the University of Alabama,  Huttenstine went on to become the first female chair of the Department of Communication at Mississippi State University.

Today incoming freshman in the MSU communication program can apply for the Marian Huttenstine Scholarship that was named in her honor.

More than once I’ve run into alumni from our program here at University of Alabama who vividly remember Huttenstine as a tough media law professor.

But, even if we don’t have those memories as students,  we can be students of hers and Stone’s way of marrying education with the ongoing effort to bring about diversity in the nation’s newsrooms and media outlets.     This week every journalism educator should remember them and re-commit ourselves as individuals to continue what they started as we do our part in preparing tomorrow’s journalists and mass communication professionals.

Marian and Chuck, we’ll miss you.  But, your work will continue!

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.

This is NOT The Year for NABJ, UNITY to be Meeting Separately

The latest figures on newsroom diversity ought to make a case for why the nation’s largest groups of journalists of color should be meeting TOGETHER This summer. There is strength in numbers when ti comes to diversity

The latest newsroom diversity census came out today and it’s no surprise the news is not good– the number of African American journalists declined for the fourth consecutive year.

But, I’m not sure minority journalists are set up to do anything about this — especially in 2012.

African Americans in the newsroom workforce fell from 4.68 percent in 2011 to 4.65 percent.

The data released by the American Society of News Editors, which concluded its annual convention today, show overall the percentage of racial minorities in newsroom at 12.32 percent, down a percentage point from 2010 census.
Continue reading “This is NOT The Year for NABJ, UNITY to be Meeting Separately”

Birmingham News Interactive Leader Shares Wisdom with UA Students

Birmingham News Interactive Director Staci Brown Brooks visited students in the Capstone Association of Black Journalists Wednesday evening.

Birmingham News Interactive Director Staci Brown Brooks addressed students Wednesday night at the Capstone Association of Black Journalists Meeting at University of Alabama.

She  may have been at The Birmingham News for nine years, but not until tonight has University of Alabama alumna Staci Brown Brooks been in the position to return to her alma with the stature of one who’s on the cutting edge of multimedia journalism at Alabama’s largest news operation.

As director of interactive content for what has historically been Alabama’s largest newspaper (recently multimedia organization), Brooks is now carrying a cross-platform message about meeting readers of The Birmingham News wherever they are giving them their news whenever and in whatever format they want it. 

Like no other year, 2011 has been one where The Birmingham News has been viewed/consumed in more platforms and formats than ever before, the latest of which is a successful iPad app commemorating Auburn University’s national championship.

Brooks carried around her MacBook Pro, an iPhone and an iPad as she visited UA students in classes this afternoon and gave a talk tonight to the Capstone Association of Black Journalists.

Her visit to the same campus where she studied journalism back in the 1990s, comes just four month after The Birmingham News launched its “This is Our Story” marketing blitz.

Tonight she told that story to a multicultural crowd of students attending an organizational meeting for the University’s affiliated of the National Association of Black Journalists.  Students in journalism, public relations, advertising and other areas of communication listened closely as she talked about some of the News’ latest digital successes. 

Staci Brown Brooks (Center) paused for a quick group photo with Capstone Association of Black Journalists leaders. They are Caryl Cooper (adviser),Amber (President), Amethyst Holmes (Vice President), and Jasmine Williams.

As a 1998-99 Chips Quinn Scholar, Brooks is one many journalists of color who are setting the standard, often as trailblazers in their roles in the nation’s newsrooms, for excellence in our profession. 

These days instead of just reporting or working on the copy desk, Brooks is spending her working hours developing concepts for iPad apps and ways to capitalize on traffic on the al.com Web site, which is The Birmingham News home on the Web.