By Meredith Tcherniavsky
Meredith Tcherniavsky is a former AJR news aide.
Amidst the surveys and plans and projections designed to increase newsroom diversity, some 6,000 minority journalists will gather next month in Atlanta to present what they see as a simpler truth: More is better .
"The industry is not keeping up with the changing color of America and as a result is not delivering good journalism," says Diane Alverio, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a reporter with Hartford's WFSB-TV.
Unity '94, four days of workshops on diversity organized by NAHJ and associations representing Asian American, African American and Native American journalists, begins July 27. The conference, which took three years to organize, represents the first time journalists from the four groups will meet collectively to discuss diversity in the media.
"This is an opportunity to show our industry what we can do, to show the depth of our talent, and to make the point that there should be more of us in this nation's newsrooms," says Evelyn Hsu, an editor at the Washington Post and president of the Asian%American Journalists Association.
Paul DeMain, president of the Native American Journalists Association, says Unity will allow NAJA members to work with larger, more established groups. "It gives us added power," he says. "Too often, the mainstream media.. doesn't take [diversity] seriously enough."
The NAJA will also mark what DeMain calls "the birth of Native American journalism" – the 1828 founding of the bilingual Cherokee Phoenix in a town about 80 miles northwest of Atlanta. "We're coming home," he says proudly.
ûorothy Butler Gilliam, a Washington Post columnist who heads the National Association of Black Journalists, says the challenge of diversity "is really all of us learning to embrace and celebrate difference. Certainly one part of that is between black and white.. [but] there's been much less concentration on people of color learning to work together."
Alverio of the NAHJ agrees, noting that one conference goal is to help media executives "realize that when they talk about minorities in this country, it's not just black and white anymore."