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Gay journalists group NLGJA accepted for membership at UNITY: Journalists of Color

nlgja For nearly two decades, NLGJA (the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association) unsuccessfully sought to be part of UNITY: Journalists of Color, a coalition of other minority journalism groups: NABJ (the National Association of Black Journalists), NAHJ (the National Association of Hispanic Journalists), AAJA (Asian American Journalists Association) and NAJA (the Native American Journalists Association).

From UNITY News on July 23, 2008:

NLGJA was established four years before the inaugural 1994 UNITY convention in Atlanta. Twice, the association attempted to gain full partner status in the UNITY alliance. In 1995, both associations signed an agreement of “mutual cooperation,” in which the organizations agreed to work on joint projects.

Alliance inclusion proposals were voted down in 1994 and 1998. NABJ, in 1998, was the only UNITY member to vote against lesbian and gay journalists’ inclusion.

Last spring, UNITY fractured when NABJ withdrew from the coalition:

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) April 10, 2011- After careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation, the National Association of Black Journalists, Inc. (NABJ), a founding organization of UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc., voted today to discontinue its participation in UNITY.

While NABJ remains committed to the coalition's mission of achieving parity in newsroom employment and accurate coverage of people of color, NABJ board members concluded that as a business model, UNITY no longer is the most financially prudent for NABJ and its membership. NABJ, with the support of members of the Founders' Task Force and Council of Presidents, will withdraw from UNITY and its 2012 convention. NABJ will hold its own convention in 2012.

As the largest organization of journalists of color, NABJ remains vigilantly committed to the common ideals for which UNITY was founded, and further, remains allied with each UNITY partner in its individual mission of achieving these goals.

Today, UNITY announced that NLGJA has at last been accepted for membership:

UNITY: Journalists of Color will now include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), after the boards of directors of both organizations agreed to the partnership last week. NLGJA’s mission to advance the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender journalists is consistent with UNITY’s mission of ensuring that American newsrooms, and consequently news coverage, reflects the diversity of our communities.

“We are delighted that NLGJA’s board has voted to accept our invitation to join the UNITY alliance,” UNITY President Joanna Hernandez said. “Our alliance will be stronger with NLGJA on board. It expands our mission to embrace diversity broadly, which is a logical progression for UNITY.”

The agreement will allow NLGJA to participate in the UNITY 2012 Convention to be held in Las Vegas next August.

“NLGJA is very excited to join UNITY and is committed to supporting its goal of improving the industry’s coverage of diverse communities,” said NLGJA President David Steinberg. “Joining UNITY will help NLGJA further its goal of fostering fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues in the news media and encouraging newsroom diversity.”

The UNITY alliance will continue its traditional focus on ensuring that our newsrooms reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities we cover. During the next year, UNITY will work to broaden that focus on diversity more generally. A broader focus will strengthen UNITY’s position when advocating for specific types of inclusion, be it racial, ethnic or based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Joining UNITY will allow NLGJA members to participate in a broader discussion of issues that affect gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. All our alliance members will benefit from a dialogue with a wider, more diverse array of journalists. It will also allow alliance members to participate in additional networking and career development opportunities.

Representatives from NLGJA and UNITY will meet in the coming weeks to formally execute an agreement that will give NLGJA full membership in UNITY, including appointing four members to the board of directors. After 12 months, both NLGJA and UNITY will have the opportunity to reassess the partnership. UNITY and NLGJA are committed to collaborating in good faith to work toward a seamless, stable and mutually advantageous alliance that can continue to advance their common mission.

“UNITY has proved, time and again, that when we operate together, our influence is greater than any of us can achieve individually. Still, these are major decisions for all of us. The boards of each one of our member organizations have a responsibility to weigh these decisions carefully. I look forward to working with each organization’s leadership and membership in articulating our new mission in the coming year,” Ms. Hernandez said.


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