The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) addressed an open letter to the founders of news media startups today calling for diversity. The letter, also sent to NABJ members through email, reads in part:
“Many of us wondered aloud if this entrepreneurship might also include new and more effective approaches to achieving diversity and inclusion in newsroom staffing and news coverage. After all, these startups will exist primarily on digital platforms, where African Americans and Latinos are proportionately larger consumers of news than whites. But our excitement has turned to concern as the parade of recent hires hardly reflects a commitment to ensuring that these new newsrooms reflect all the communities they will cover.”
Media startups named in the letter include Vox Media, First Look Media, The Marshall Project and FiveThirtyEight, all of which have hired industry vets—a move the NABJ believes demonstrates that diversity may not be much of a priority. The letter continues:
“Old relationship networks have become a 21st century club that is predominantly male and almost exclusively white. This club is familiar with, and hires, its own. This has been the trend in legacy media. The same will happen in these new outlets if new relationships are not forged.”
Pulling in rapper Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement,” the NABJ wrote, “Allow us to reintroduce ourselves,” in an effort to forge an ongoing partnership by inviting such companies to the organization’s annual sumer NABJ Convention & Career Fair.
With the onslaught of new startups cropping up everywhere in the world, being funded by not just businessmen with sound decision making skills, but also by youngsters, celebrities, etc, the people are little concern about the outcomes.
What starts out today in such a high speed, soaring over the existing companies that were built over a period of time, can come down crashing without a warning. These companies can have a short growth stint and just vanish in thin air, leaving the investors and employees totally exposed.
Apart from the performance of such companies, what has caught the attention of the public and the media is the way they hire their employees. Gone are the days where there would be a proper interview and one had to go to extensive limits to crack it. Today, if a company is funded by a celebrity, everyone he knows or has come across in his life, stands a chance to get in.
So what happens to quality of the job done on the inside and the value of the money invested by the investors? One can never be too sure. While people are skeptical to invest in the stock market through software like Millionaire Blueprint, where everything is automated, people are ready to invest in ventures where the scope and aim are not clear and business practices are questionable.
Image courtesy of Bogdan Suditu.