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“AAJA is disappointed that NABJ has withdrawn from Unity,” said AAJA President Doris Truong during a morning conference call today.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.