Tag Archives: journalism

Diversity’s recession-era failure: The numbers show Unity was cash cow for all, but black journalists wanted more

As a journalist who attended every Unity and believed in the mission, I was concerned about NABJ pulling out of Unity. And I admit to being surprised I didn’t hear outcry from others.

Maybe people don’t care anymore.

 In recession era diversity, where the buck matters more than the principle,it’s just not the same.

But a piece from the Poynter Institute sheds a little  light on why no one on the Unity board is all that broken up about the black journalists’ withdrawal.

Everyone made money.  

It’s just that NABJ wanted what it saw as its fair share.

According to the Poynter Institute story,  NABJ chose solvency over solidarity.  But it really wasn’t going broke. It wanted more money for extra programs and felt it should get more out of the Unity cash cow.

To me that’s a bit selfish when you’re talking about the kind of non-profit mission Unity was on.

Beyond that, Unity’s revenues were pretty healthy, about $6 million from the 2008 convention, mostly coming from registration (1.8 million), sponsorships ($2.5 million), and the career fair ($1.4 million).

Here’s the revenue split based on the Poynter story’s numbers:

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ),  $427,259.

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA ),$396,011.

The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), $143,197.

NABJ felt that it deserved even more since it brought in 53 percent of paid registrants and 38 percent of the estimated 7,500 attendees. It amounted to $574,407.

With NABJ gone, the revenue split won’t be as robust. But the organizations working together still should make more than they would with individual conventions. That windfall has always helped to save all the journalism groups that have battled huge deficits in recent years.  

Given that,  what do you make of NABJ’s compromise ideas on redoing the revenue share? One of the proposals would actually hurt the smaller groups.

Doesn’t sound like NABJ was all that into solidarity from the beginning.

Still organizations are being very political.

“AAJA is disappointed that NABJ has withdrawn from Unity,” said AAJA President Doris Truong during a morning conference call today. “ But now we have to move forward. We wanted NABJ to stay in the alliance but we wish them well. We will never close the door to NABJ.”

So NABJ is gone, and all that’s left is a bigger share of a smaller pie for the journalism groups that remain.  Not the end of the world, but the end of something.

Unity was the biggest model for how real diversity could work in America.

When Unity fails to unite, that’s sad.

NABJ, the National Association of Black Journalists, pulls out of 2012 Unity convention: Not a good sign for coalitions of color

Read my column at  http://www.aaldef.org/blog  to see why it’s a shock that the black journalists group has pulled out of Unity.

Established in 1994 to be a prime example of diversity in action, Unity’s biggest accomplish was just being there every four years, thousands of journalists of color all together.

When NABJ says it wants more of cut from the big confab that Unity puts on simply because it’s bigger, that’s a bad sign not just for diversity advocates in journalism but for any coalitions based on minority groups of varying size.

Who gets the bigger say? What happened to the greater good?

Greater what? NABJ essentially is saying don’t take it personally bleeding hearts. It’s just business.

And when the largest group pulls out of Unity, what are you left with? 

Nether unity, nor Unity.

Note from Emil Guillermo: Help,I’m a pioneer!

AAJA, the Asian American Journalists Association has figured out the best way to get back at me after all my years of being a bickering member.

It’s honoring me.

On Wed., Aug. 4, I’m being honored among 150 others as an Asian American pioneer in  U.S. journalism. (Yes, Tritia Toyota and Connie Chung are on the list too. But so ae lots of others who were founders and original members of AAJA).

How’d that happen?

It’s just a citation for being old and one of the first Asian Americans to consider journalism instead of medicine, the law, restaurant ownership, or investment banking  for a career. 

At this point in time, I’d have to say, choosing journalism may not have been the best choice.

 But it was my choice. And I’m gratified that someone noticed that I was the first Asian American male and first Filipino American to host a national news program when I was senior host of “All Things Considered” in 1989.

I hope that doesn’t become the headline in my obituary someday.  It’s not over yet. (I can’t even withdraw from my IRA without a 10 percent penalty).

I’m still a pioneer who hasn’t quite reached the promised land.

Emil Guillermo on the passing of a newspaper: Aloha Honolulu Advertiser

The major morning daily in the state of Hawaii died this morning after 154 years.

In 2005, I left the mainland to join the Honloulu Advertiser for a brief fling.

I didn’t realize that just as I was realizing my dream of being an “ink stained wretch” that newspapers were nosediving faster than my retro-career was ascending.

When I got there, the Advertiser boasted about hitting revenue records. After a year, cost cutting measures were already in place.  Trust me, the “Tiser didn’t go broke transporting my little Toyota from the Mainland. The spending cuts should have been the tip-off.

But newspaper people, despite all the negatives you see  in the news, are really professional optimists.

No need for a correction now, the paper was sold for half of what the old owners bought it for. And some of my old colleagues are scratching their heads trying to figure out where they fit in the new one paper town. The Star-Bulletin, the small paper, ate the big paper, the ‘Tiser. The new paper may have indigestion. I hope it survives.

I’ll also miss the Advertiser because it was the first paper to which I gladly silenced my voice, my byline, my perspective, to write under the masthead, which at that time sported hibiscus.

I”ve learned my lesson.

Little known fact. I used the flower in an editorial once as in “stopped to smell the hibiscus.” I thought it clever until my dutiful then-editor, the great Hawaii political analyst Jerry Burris told me “Hibiscus don’t smell. Plumeria do.”  Hence, I stopped to smell the plumeria.

I would have liked to have smelled it a bit longer there. But I returned to California in 2007, happy for the experience of seeing the dark side of paradise as a journalist, but realizing that the media was changing faster than we all thought.  

In my next Twitter, I’ll try to squeeze in the next Watergate.

To Grads: The truth about journalism

June is grad season, and globetrotting millionaire journalist Christiane Amanpour has graduated to the place for old journalists.  No knock on Amanpour who left CNN and war zones to join Disney’s Sunday salon in D.C.

My quarrel with her is over what she said to the 2010 class at Harvard recently.

I’m not jealous of her. I spoke at Harvard’s Class Day in 1977 as class humorist.  I told 3,000 mostly rich white people about being a Filipino at Harvard. I appeared as Marcos.  It was a crack-up. For details, you’ll have to get my book “Amok.”

I don’t know if Amanpour channeled a dictator during her speech. In fact, I wouldn’t have known about it had she not used that new media technique known as Twitter, where she tweeted thusly: Delivered Harvard Class Day speech for seniors yesterday. Great honor for me! Urged them to pursue journalism, find passion and purpose. 6:08 AM May 27th

Twitter’s great isn’t it? But here I can respond in more than 140 characters.

I’m glad she’s honored. It was an honor for me. My first stand-up comedy routine. And then I went into journalism.   Amanpour did the reverse. She spent years in the trenches covering wars and wearing Safari outfits, and then went to Harvard to deliver her biggest one-liner:  She actually urged people to pursue journalism.

That’s a funny line.  But easy for a multi-millionaire journalist  to say.

The fact is many of the journalists I know are currently under or unemployed. Among them a few Pulitizer prize winners and a number of regional and local award winners who just can’t get a job because there aren’t any.

The journalism industry’s business model has disintegrated in the last five years, and the only way a news organization  seems to stay in business is by cutting wages, people,  and coverage.

It’s not pretty.

In Honolulu, the small paper bought the big paper making the city a one newspaper town with one too many staffs. Many of my old colleagues who have done nothing but journalism are now polishing up resumes to send where? The next newspaper that will go under?

In radio and TV, your best prospects of getting a job is not having done a hot story, but being hot and young (which means you have no kids, mortgage, nor a need for a high salary). Great.  But it’s unlikely you’ll cover Watergate. Or even a City Hall scandal.  Maybe you’ll get a murder. Is that your passion?

And if you’re a minority, the days when diversity was valued by the mainstream media are over.  An industry loses compassion in survival mode.

You want the future of journalism? You’re seeing it. The niche market. Highly targeted audiences. Not the shotgun approach of the “mass media.”  When was the last time your local mainstream paper even printed the word “Filipino” in the context of your life, your community?  That’s why one of the outlets I write for, the Philippine News, the oldest Filipino newspaper in America, has real value.

Perhaps I’ve reacted to Amanpour more acutely because recently I gave a talk to 5th graders at the ACORN Woodland Academy in Oakland.

How can you tell 5th graders in the inner city with a straight face to go into a dying industry?

So I was honest.  I told them you could make millions, or you can make ten cents a word. I told them they are already  licensed to be journalists. The First Amendment (which they had just learned about) gives them that right.

Now the question is are you curious? Do you want to know–everything? And once you do know, are you burning to tell everyone the truth about it?

If so, you are cursed, but journalism will be both your blessing and reward.

That’s more honest than Amanpour’s message at Harvard.

(Oh, and I also told them to learn how to tweet).

Mainstream media finally notices: Olympic champion diver Victoria Manalo Draves is still dead after 19 days

I first heard of Victoria  Manalo Draves’ death more than two weeks ago.  

Draves was an important, iconic figure in the Filipino American community. Born to a Filipino father and a Caucasian mother during a time when mixed-marriages were against the law, young Vicky Manalo  was shunned as a kid in San Francsico from swimming among whites. It didn’t stop Draves from becoming an Olympic champion in 1948.

Of course, that doesn’t mean she gets the respect she deserves on the day of her death.

Today’s obit in the New York Times shows just how far Filipinos, even half-white ones, can be in terms of real inclusion.  

It took the Times 19 days to report the death of an Olympic champion, excusing its tardiness by saying  Manalo’s  death “had not been widely reported.”  I heard about it through the ethnic media.

So the mainstream’s elite newspaper is just 19 days behind in reporting a significant death of a Filipino American. At least now we can measure how far behind the mainstream can be.

So much for diversity in journalism.  At least it wasn’t 19 years.