Leadership

UNITY Fractures: Journalists' Diversity Coalition Loses Association Partner

By / Oct 25, 2013 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Months after the National Association of Hispanic Journalists first mentioned possibly leaving UNITY, the group pulled the trigger this week, citing the diversity coalition’s ongoing governance and financial problems.

The coalition called UNITY Journalists for Diversity just got a little less unified and diverse.

We cannot afford to continue to deplete our limited resources on an organization that does not represent the best interests of NAHJ or her mission. Our leader’s time must be focused on NAHJ.

The group, intended to bring together minority journalists’ associations with similar interests, lost a founding member, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), earlier this week. The move came months after reports surfaced that NAHJ might consider leaving the coalition.

More details below:

The decision: NAHJ President Hugo Balta announced that his group would be dropping out of UNITY after NAHJ held a virtual town hall meeting this week to discuss the issue and the group’s board voted strongly in favor of leaving the coalition. The move was foreshadowed in August, when NAHJ announced it would reconsider its membership, citing issues with revenue, transparency, and governance. Balta said in a blog post that not much has changed since then—or since the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) bowed out in 2011 over the same issues. “We cannot afford to continue to deplete our limited resources on an organization that does not represent the best interests of NAHJ or her mission,” he wrote. “Our leader’s time must be focused on NAHJ.”

The response: In a press release, UNITY expressed disappointment in NAHJ’s decision, but promised that it would continue its reform efforts to ensure the coalition meets its member groups’ needs. “Our commitment to the mission UNITY was founded on will not waver,” UNITY President David Steinberg said. “We have an opportunity now to make our alliance stronger and more reflective of the unique environment our industry and our organizations work in today.” UNITY has expanded its reach in recent years, taking its diversity focus beyond race and bringing in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (of which Steinberg once served as board president).

Others staying put for now: Paul Cheung, president of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), told The Root that his organization would remain with UNITY and that he hoped the coalition could rekindle partnerships with NAHJ and NABJ in the future. AAJA is currently the largest group involved with UNITY.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that AAJA, not NAHJ, is the largest member of UNITY. We regret the error.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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