By Arelis Hernandez
Across the country, newsrooms are losing minority journalists at an alarming rate to industries outside journalism, leaders of national minority journalists' organizations said at Friday's APME/UNITY Summit.
The changing newsroom, they say, has put diversity issues on the back burner for editors.
Maintaining diversity through retention was the main topic of a video clip shown at the session that featured round-table discussions airing the grievances of Latino, black, American Indian and Asian journalists.
Panelists raised specific factors and concerns behind the mass exodus and provided a handbook of tips to assist editors in their quest to retain journalists of color.
Often, according to the clip, these journalists feel generally underappreciated, becoming frustrated by a lack of access to senior editors, opportunities for promotion, and recognition in the news product.
“When I feel as if the work I am doing is valuable and contributing to the community in the broadest sense,” said Arizona State University lecturer James Garcia, “then I’m happy, because I’m bringing something new to the table.”
Rafael Olmeda, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said it’s an issue of respect and visibility. He said many journalists of color are encountering newsrooms that don’t value the benefits they bring.
Panelists said the loss of minority journalists translates into a loss in readership and a threat to the credibility and accuracy of national newspapers.
“There is a pipeline issue,” Garcia said. Diversity must be a priority to have balanced coverage of diverse communities, he said. “This dramatic deficiency is making our job harder to do.”
APME President Karen Magnuson said she hoped the session was the beginning of a dialogue. "Newsrooms are not going to survive if we don’t accurately reflect our communities,” she said.