FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
From NPR News, this is News & Notes. I'm Farai Chideya. OK, we journalists don't want to play the violin for our own business just because we're losing jobs, but like many other industries, media outlets are in free fall. Let's take a look at the media crisis. Traditional media outlets were struggling before the financial crisis hit. The Internet transformed the way we get information and cut deeply into print, television and even radio revenue. This year alone, an estimated 15,000 people lost their jobs at newspapers, according to the Web site Papercuts. Many black journalists have been cut out of the newsroom. Barbara Ciara is here to tell us more. She's the president of National Association of Black Journalists. Hi, Barbara.
Ms. BARBARA CIARA (President, National Association of Black Journalists): Hello, Farai. Good to hear you.
CHIDEYA: Yes, likewise. You know - so, overall, how are black journalists doing?
Ms. CIARA: Well, so goes the industry, so goes African-American journalists across the country. And to a certain degree, we're getting hit a little bit harder. And that's unfortunate on so many different levels, not just because people are losing their jobs and their livelihood, but because of content issues. We worked very, very hard to get diversity in the newsroom, which is reflected in some ways in the content, and now we're losing that.
CHIDEYA: Now, what kind of stories are you hearing from NABJ members? Because I know you've made a special effort to try to take the temperature.
Ms. CIARA: Well, we're hearing a variety of stories. We're hearing about long-term veterans being offered buyouts, which - you know, there's institutional memory that's draining out of newsrooms all over the country, both print and broadcast. We're hearing from people who are actually being victimized by union rules. They're credible, good journalists. Because of the rules associated with unions, they're the first to go. So, it runs the gamut.
CHIDEYA: What about some criticism that I've heard from some black journalists that NABJ needs to do more or different, that there needs to be some, you know, kind of muscle put into how NABJ addresses the industry? I don't even know precisely - I don't even think the people who spoke know precisely what they want. But what could you do differently?
Ms. CIARA: I can understand the frustration, because when something this sweeping happens, you're looking for your associations and other organizations to just do something. But if it were simply about our membership, perhaps we would have a little bit more muscle. But what's happening in the industry right now is a little more broader-sweeping. So, what we're finding ourselves doing is working with publishers, network executives, to find out how we can soften the blow. The blow's coming; it's just a matter of degrees. So, we're working that behind the scenes. We don't necessarily make statements in public all the time, because we do want to try to work with some organizations who are still interested in diversity but find themselves having to make the cuts.
CHIDEYA: What about the idea that the traditional industries are not going to be the places of growth? How much are you plugged into new media or just entrepreneurial ventures?
Ms. CHIDEYA: Well, that's something that we started trying to kind of cast that net a couple of years ago, and even before that under the old administration, what we wanted to do is just kind of grow that membership. And it's still - you know, we're still trying to attract that membership, because some of those folks who are involved in new media don't think that there's a place for them in a traditional journalism organization. So, we're doing our best to bring them into the tent. That notwithstanding, we are providing professional development for our membership so that they can expand their education, so that they can survive, because the industry is going down the tubes right now.
But if I can veer off into something else - and I'm glad to have this opportunity to be on your show - NPR - I'm extremely disappointed with NPR because, as content leaders, the more serious news listener turns to NPR, and for two shows both geared - both headed by African Americans, it's just a shame, it's a travesty, that these shows are going away. And you know, I am interested in what NPR leaders have to say about what appears to be on the outside just an arbitrary cut.
CHIDEYA: Well, Barbara, it's great to talk to you. We appreciate you keeping track of the situation. Thank you.
Ms. CIARA: Well, thank you. And thank you for having me.
CHIDEYA: Barbara Ciara is the president of the National Association of Black Journalists. She's also an anchor and managing editor for WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia.
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