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Program: UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., Arlington, VA
Contact(s): Walt Swanston, Executive Director: (703) 841-9099
Purpose: To advance the presence, growth and leadership of journalists of color, as well as to advance diversity issues within the media

Background Program Operations Outcomes

Background

In 1994, more than 6,000 journalists converged in Atlanta for UNITY 94 to begin working together to advance diversity issues in the media. In January of 1998, the Board of Directors of UNITY 94 voted to shift the focus of the organization and change its name. The new organization, UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., is a strategic alliance of journalists of color acting as a force for positive change to advance their presence, growth and leadership in the fast-changing global news industry. This alliance includes the National Association of Black Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Program Operations

Leading up to the convention in 1999, UNITY members will work with the chapters of the four minority journalists associations to help them improve coverage of communities of color and teach community members who are not journalists how to get their news into the media. UNITY sponsors town hall meetings to get reporters and editors out into communities of color. UNITY also supports News Watch, a national news monitoring campaign. News Watch publishes a quarterly bulletin and has a Website, www.newswatch.sfsu.edu, examining how the news media cover people of color, gays and lesbians. For the convention in 1999, there will be 60-70 workshops to help print and broadcast journalists and new media practitioners improve their professional skills. The convention will also feature four sessions on current issues in the news and two luncheons featuring high-profile newsmakers of the day. College students, working with professional journalists, will produce a daily convention newspaper, television and radio broadcast and an on-line media service.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The UNITY town hall meetings have been held every year since 1994 in some cities. Some are held on a regional basis and involve members of two or three of the associations. The UNITY job fair held in 1994 resulted in 3,700 journalists of color being interviewed, and 288 getting hired. Recruiters from companies that had never participated in the individual associations' job fairs attended.

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