Boston UNITY letter to the Boston Globe

(The follow letter was sent to Boston Globe Editor Marty Baron this week)

March 16, 2009

Martin Baron
Editor of The Boston Globe
135 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA  02125
Dear Mr. Baron,
As The Boston Globe prepares to reduce its newsroom staff, we’d like to remind the Globe of the importance of keeping a diverse staff.

For a city as diverse as Boston, where nearly half of its residents are people of color, a newsroom with a sizable percentage of Latino, African American, and Asian American staff is critical to providing accurate coverage of those communities that still lack decent media exposure.

It has been reported that the Globe plans to make staff cuts based on seniority.  However, because the Globe has hired many of its journalists of color only in the past few years, and because certain collective bargaining rules must be followed, such a strategy would unfairly reduce minority journalists at the Globe; many of us are nearly at the bottom of the seniority list in almost every department.

Any reduction of journalists of color at the Globe would make a less diverse and less relevant newspaper for our communities. The newspaper’s few journalists of color help create a product that offers balanced and creative coverage. These staffers bring to the table what their colleagues may not — speaking other languages, knowledge of the city’s mostly minority neighborhoods, and perspectives shared with the city’s minority residents.  We hope that specialized skills such as knowledge of other languages will be considered alongside seniority.

We understand the financial challenges the Globe faces, along with other newspapers across the country. Still, we implore you to take journalists of color into consideration on any upcoming decisions. A less diverse staff will not help the newspaper in its quest for long-term stability.

Our organizations all stand by the Globe.  Please let us know what we can do to help.

Sincerely,

Russell Contreras
National Association of Hispanic Journalists — New England, President

Shirley Goh
Asian American Journalists Association — New England Co-President

Latoyia Edwards
Boston Association of Black Journalists — President

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NAHJ Boston, you’re on the air at WBUR

For those of you who missed last night’s NAHJ Boston meeting (and you know who you are and we know who you are and where you work) here’s a quick recap.

Sitting three stories above bustling Commonwealth Avenue, eight NAHJ members and three WBUR officials met inside the radio station’s dining hall. WBUR “Con Salsa” host Jose Masso led the meeting by introducing Paul La Camera, general manager;  Sam Fleming, managing editor of news and programming; and John Davidow, news director and managing editor.

They briefly talked about WBUR’s presence in Boston and nationally. The station employees 130 staffers including eight local journalists such as general assignment reporter Bianca Vazquez Tonness. They help  produce local shows such as “On Point,” “Radio Boston,” and “Car Talk.” The station operations on a $21 milllion annual budget, with $7 million coming from listeners and six percent from the federal government. As La Camera pointed out, the station is self-sufficient despite its affiliation with Boston University. “We really are as populist as an institution can be,” he said. They also spoke about the importance of diversity on the dial.

As he, Davidow, and Fleming left skid marks on the tile floor as they dashed out the door to make the Red Sox game, the meeting continued. Several servings of cheese-topped pasta and tender chicken breasts later, new goals were presented.

Among them:

Create a printed facebook of Latino media professionals in Boston. This would serve as an historic narrative, a thoughtful catalog of reporters who worked in TV, print and radio in Boston in the past 30 years or so. This will provide a time frame of which reporters worked where in Boston and where are they now. We would have a printed record to hopefully present a year from now for NAHJ Boston’s anniversary gala. The printed version would be complemented with an online database. The narrative part of the project maybe morph into a student intern project or thesis.

Establish a speaker’s bureau, a resource for local community leaders and institutions to go to when they need a Latino media personality to speak on his or her craft or a specific topic.  As we gather the information about our currrent journalists, we will catalog their talents and skills for this bureau.

Brainstorming ways to raise money for student scholarships or projects. One idea mentioned was a gala dinner, perhaps a one-on-one interview with a popular visiting musician and followed with a meet-and-greet dinner at a college such as Berklee. The goal is to have some ideas of where and when to do this in 2009 at the upcoming November meeting.

Network with other local professional networks such as Latino Professional Network and the local chapter of Independent Latino film producers. Have at least one NAHJ member attend their events to establish our presence and spread the word.

Reach out to journalism departments at local colleges and universities to make our presence known. One idea was to have a future meeting at a local college newspaper. (Northeastern, Emerson, etc.)

Create an E-newsletter to let other members and potential members know what we’re doing. (I think I am doing this now with this entry.)

Create an online calendar (perhaps on this blog or our facebook page) of future meetings, which will take place the second or third Thursday of every month and at various local news organizations. (NESN, WCVB or WBZ-TV, etc.)

JDiaz

Job Opening: The Sentinel & Enterprise Features Reporter

The Sentinel & Enterprise, an award-winning daily newspaper in North Central Massachusetts, has an immediate opening for a features writer. The successful candidate will write features and human interest stories for our daily and weekend papers. This candidate must be able to talk easily to people and have a good knowledge of pop culture and subjects that appeal to young and female readers. Must have at least a year of daily or weekly experience _ sorry college and internships don’t count _ and be able to pound the streets and work the phones. Interested candidates should send resume, cover letter, references, work samples and salary requirements to Jeff McMenemy, Editor, The Sentinel & Enterprise, 808 Main St., Fitchburg, MA 01420.