Leadership

Journalism Diversity Coalition UNITY Folds, But Keeps Mission Alive

By / Mar 5, 2018 (PromesaArtStudio/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The coalition of journalist groups, which dates to the early 1990s, struggled after the departure of two of its founding groups. The members who remained with UNITY to the end have pledged to invest in diversity programs in the coalition’s place.

For nearly three decades, a coalition of minority journalist groups teamed up under one umbrella: UNITY, Journalists for Diversity.

But the group—which originally included the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)—is shutting down later this year. What happened?

In a message the group posted on the website last week, the association said that the departure of two of the four groups, NABJ in 2011 and NAHJ in 2013, left the organization in a challenging financial situation.

While the coalition added the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) in 2011, the shift in organizational makeup led to changes for the organization, including the decision to stop holding a joint conference between member groups every four years, noted UNITY President Neal Justin, a media critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Without a national convention every four years, and with so many strong programs going after the same shrinking pool of funders, it just doesn’t seem feasible to continue,” Justin emphasized in a news release.

But while UNITY the group is dissolving, the mission of unity and diversity in journalism won’t go down with it. The group’s remaining funds will be split up among AAJA, NLGJA, and NAJA, and the three groups have pledged to use the funds for diversity-focused programs.

“We are not severing ties, but looking forward with stronger bonds than ever before, and an absolute commitment to diversity in our industry, and that includes building stronger relationships with NAHJ and NABJ with each of our respective groups,” Justin added in his release.

The point was echoed by NLGJA, which said that it was building a new diversity committee to encourage more diversity both within its organization and with the programs and partnerships it pursues.

“Our industry has seen significant change since our founding, and with your continued support, we have taken each twist and turn head-on and emerged stronger,” the group said in its statement. “This time will be no different, and we intend to use this opportunity to expand our reach and impact.”

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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