Taking on Jena, Jeremiah and Barack Obama
CHICAGO, Ill. -- Since Tuesday evening, I've been basking in the aura of the UNITY: Journalists of Color conference -- a gathering of 6,000 attendees from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.
It's something we only do every four or five years -- uniting the country's four largest organizations representing minority journalists. And even though cost-cutting, layoffs and economic uncertainty have reduced our numbers, everyone from PBS' Gwen Ifill to New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger is in the house for this most important event.
Normally, I would have been blogging like crazy about the events here, but I've been working overtime on the convention itself. Today, for example, I will appear on Michel Martin's NPR show Tell Me More from the Navy Pier in Chicago, trading barbs and ideas on the issues on the day during her show's "Barbershop" segment.
Hours later, in my capacity as NABJ's Media Monitoring Committee Chair, I'll be at a press conference announcing our annual Thumbs Down award criticizing the worst impact to diversity in journalism and our Best Practices honor singling out a wonderful advance.
At 3 p.m. today, I'm on a panel, "Jeremiah Wright and Jena: Who Reported It and Who Got it Right?" which will dissect the media frenzies surrounding these two hot-button race-based issues. I'm the lightweight among the panelists, which includes nationally known DJ Tom Joyner, NPR's Michel Martin and Rev. Michael Pfleger, the priest whose incendiary sermon about Hillary Clinton at Wright's Trinity church led to national headlines. The moderator is Michele Norris, host of NPR's All Things Considered. I was told as one point that this discussion would be aired on C-SPAN, so tune it in, if you've got time.
Finally, on Saturday, I'll be organizing a party here to promote next year's NABJ convention, which is scheduled for Tampa in August 2009. As president of the Tampa Bay area NABJ chapter, I'll be working hard over the next year to bring 3,000 journalists of color to the area next year.
Check out my posting on Sunday, after presidential candidate Barack Obama addresses our group (presumptive GOP nominee John McCain was also invited, but despite aggressive efforts to make space for him to address the convention, he declined, citing scheduling conflicts).
It's a crushing schedule, I know. But after spending an evening at dinner with a host of NABJ compadres last night -- including Ifill and Norris -- it's obvious how important it is for journalists of color to support each other in a media universe which still sometimes has trouble understanding our people and our work.