Not sure why, but I was sitting at my desk today and suddenly got a weird feeling. Much like how older folks claim that a certain pain in their shoulders, hands or knees alerts them to the fact that rain is coming, I could feel that someone, somewhere had put a bad message out into the universe.
I felt the urge to check-in on Richard Prince’s “Journal-isms,” and there, four stories down, was my confirmation: “Editorial Writers Pull Out of Ida B. Wells Award.” According to Prince:
“The National Conference of Editorial Writers, a partner in administering the Ida B. Wells Award, which annually honors a media executive who has helped diversify the nation’s newsrooms and improve coverage of people and communities of color, has decided to end its involvement.
In a letter to the other co-sponsors, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, NCEW President Tom Waseleski, editorial page editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, gave three reasons for the NCEW Foundation’s Dec. 5 decision:
“One is the expense to the foundation of hosting award recipients when the presentation is made at the NCEW convention. Another is the time spent by the foundation and NCEW members in maintaining our dealings with the award — at a time when our membership and revenues are down and when we need to focus more attention on the health of our organization. A third factor, which is certainly debatable, is the feeling among some that the true pioneers in diversifying America’s newsrooms have by now been honored.”
Ok, let’s review this reasoning for no longer supporting the award:
- Costs to host recipients….hard times. I can swallow this one.
- Time spent on award dealings when membership needs more focus….priorities. I can accept this too.
- Many feel the true pioneers in diversifying America’s newsrooms have by now been honored. Hmm…not sure what to do with this one.
In their minds, are there no other pioneers currently diversifying America’s newsrooms? Or has the mission been accomplished? No more awards necessary because the newsrooms have been diversified?
I’m not so sure.
What is most disturbing here is the mindset. In a time when some people are smartly focusing on the “Now Generation,” the NCEW is choosing to either forget about or purposely ignore the efforts of those currently coming up in the industry. What about these pioneers? What about the pioneers in training?
The work done by the pioneers honored has served as a strong foundation, but there is still a long way to go for the leaders of today and tomorrow. Thankfully, the other co-sponsors are now even more committed to ensuring that these groups receive the recognition they deserve.