UNITY Elects David Steinberg as President

UNITY_logoStatement from UNITY:

McLEAN, Va. — UNITY: Journalists for Diversity is pleased to announce the election of David Steinberg as its president.

“I appreciate the support of the UNITY board and plan to announce, as early as next week, specific proposals to reform UNITY to make it more efficient, cost effective, and responsive to its alliance members and partners,” Steinberg said.

UNITY is an alliance of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA).

“I’m confident that David’s experience working across a broad base of stakeholders will make UNITY even stronger and will strengthen the journalism industry as a whole,” said UNITY Vice President Doris Truong, who has been the organization’s acting president since late April. “It was encouraging to see a contested race because that shows the passion and commitment of the candidates to UNITY’s mission.”

AAJA President Paul Cheung said: “I am looking forward to working with David on how best to grow and shape UNITY’s future. This is the time for us to step up, roll up our sleeves and get down to work!”

Mary Hudetz, president of NAJA, was the nominations chair for the election. Janet Cho, a business reporter for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, was also a candidate for the presidency.

“This election presented a difficult choice between two very qualified candidates ready to serve and lead UNITY as it heads in a new direction,” Hudetz said. “I congratulate David and look forward to working with him in the coming year.”

Cho, a former AAJA vice president for print, also congratulated Steinberg as he prepares to lead the coalition of journalism associations.

“Congratulations to David, and thank you to the board members who voted,” Cho said. “The next few months will be critical ones for reassuring our alliance group members and others in the media industry that UNITY remains relevant and necessary. David will need all of our collective support.”

Steinberg, a two-term NLGJA president, is the copy desk chief/stylebook editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. He has served as UNITY’s treasurer since Jan. 1.

“David was one of the best presidents NLGJA had,” NLGJA President Jen Christensen said. “He is a man of integrity and vision, and we have great confidence that he can lead UNITY in the right direction.”

Steinberg was elected to complete a presidential term that expires Dec. 31, 2014. The vote will be ratified by the board at an upcoming meeting, which will be scheduled as early as next week.

“What UNITY needs to succeed in today’s environment is the fundamental support of all journalism diversity organizations,” Steinberg said. “We must restore the sense of partnership and shared values that UNITY was founded and built on, and overcome differences that distract us. That will be my overarching goal as UNITY president.”

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About UNITY: Journalists for Diversity

UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, an alliance of four journalism organizations representing more than 4,000 journalists, is the nation’s most diverse journalism organization. A coalition of the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, UNITY is a strategic alliance advocating fair and accurate news coverage about people of color and LGBT issues and aggressively challenges news organizations to increase diversity in whom they employ at all levels of their companies.

Jen Christensen Affirmed New NLGJA President

ChristensenThe National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Board of Directors has affirmed Jen Christensen of CNN as its new president, succeeding the late Michael Triplett. Following the rules of the NLGJA bylaws, Christensen will serve the remainder of the term, through the 2014 convention.

Since 2009, Christensen has served as NLGJA’s vice president for broadcast.  She previously served on NLGJA’s board of directors for three terms, as president of the Georgia and Carolinas chapters and as the founding president of the Kentucky chapter.

A writer and producer with CNN.com, Christensen previously worked as an investigative producer/documentarian in CNN’s Special Investigations Unit, where she won the Peabody and DuPont awards, among other top prizes, as a producer for Christiane Amanpour’s God’s (Jewish) Warriors. She also produced the award-winning MLK’s Words That Changed a Nation; Black in America: Eyewitness to Murder; Obama Revealed; Sarah Palin Revealed; Christiane Amanpour’s Generation Islam, and several breaking-news documentaries.

Before joining CNN, Christensen ran investigative units at WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., and WTVQ-TV in Lexington, KY

Christensen holds a bachelor’s degree in TV/Radio and politics from Butler University and also attended the London School of Economics, where she studied foreign policy and economics.

“While I take on this role under extremely sad circumstances, I hope to carry on Michael’s important legacy of thoughtful leadership,” she said. “I look forward to echoing his passion to seek fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues in the media and to continue to help create more inclusive newsrooms for LGBT journalists.”

Michael Triplett, 1964-2013

Triplett_Michael_0It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and leader, NLGJA President Michael Triplett, passed away today after a courageous battle with cancer.

While Michael only served as president for a few short months, he has been a member of our leadership team for several years, first as a Washington, D.C. chapter board member and president and then as a national board member and vice president for print. His quiet demeanor masked a steely resolve and an uncanny ability to push our organization forward. Michael quickly became someone who could be relied on both to provide sage advice as well as the time and energy to help us accomplish our goals.

Michael was the assistant managing editor at Bloomberg-BNA, where he used his legal background to develop and lead reports on tax and labor policy, as well as grooming journalists around the world. NLGJA members often called on Michael to provide a legal perspective to policy issues and governance, and he frequently sat on panels covering legal issues at NLGJA conventions.

Michael played an enormous role in our joining UNITY: Journalists for Diversity in 2011 and was one of our first representatives to the UNITY board. There, he worked with members of our partner groups to fully incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity into UNITY’s mission.

He also helped our organization connect with members as a principle contributor to the NLGJA RE:ACT blog.

Michael was truly a joy for all of us to work with, and his loss will be felt among our organization for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner, Jack and his family in Alabama.

The NLGJA board will meet in the coming days to elect an interim president, as well as to determine the best way to honor Michael’s memory. But for now, we pause to remember our friend and an enormous contributor to our recent growth and success.

The Randy Shilts Award for LGBT Coverage

Washington, D.C. - As part of a new annual event, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association will be presenting the NLGJA Randy Shilts Award for LGBT Coverage. The award is designed to honor journalists who consistently bring stories of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to life in mainstream media outlets. The award honors individual journalists and news organizations who go the extra mile to ensure that all Americans are aware of the diversity within the LGBT community, as well as the unique struggles gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people face in the United States and around the world.

The 2012 NLGJA Randy Shilts Award for LGBT Coverage will be presented to NPR’s Michel Martin. The host of “Tell Me More,” Martin has consistently lived up to her program’s title with her coverage of the LGBT community, going beyond the headlines to ask deeper questions – from whether gay marriage might lead to legal polygamy to how gay and lesbian people are reshaping African American and Latino activism. Her regular series exploring “private lives” has brought her listeners voices few have heard before – including persecuted gay men in Africa, people living with HIV and AIDS on Indian reservations and transgender athletes chasing Olympic glory.

This award is named in memory of Randy Shilts, a member of the NLGJA Hall of Fame, who is widely credited with being the first reporter to cover the “gay beat” for a major metropolitan newspaper. His writing in the San Francisco Chronicle brought the stories of gays and lesbians – whether they were living with AIDS or serving in the military – to the attention of millions of Americans. Before his death in 1994, Shilts authored three best-selling books, including the groundbreaking And the Band Played On, cataloguing the rise of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

The award will be presented at DATELINE-DC, a benefit for NLGJA on Nov. 13, 2012 in Washington, D.C. For more information and tickets, visit www.nlgja.org/dateline-dc.

Are You Gay?

“Are You Gay?” is the latest NLGJA tip sheet on LGBT coverage.

From the introduction:

When is it appropriate to ask a subject to disclose his/her sexual orientation for a story? Is it ever?

Spring 2012, a New York judge ruled it wasn’t defamatory to call someone gay, even if he or she was heterosexual. As more LGBT people come out and more cities and states provide protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the stigma of being LGBT has lessened. As a result, reporters are more likely to cover issues that affect LGBTs (e.g., jobs, the economy, marriage, health care), and encounter people who are openly gay. How do you ask if someone is gay without prying?

First and foremost, be sensitive. Realize that some LGBTs are out and proud and some are very much closeted. It’s a personal decision and it isn’t ethical for a reporter to pass judgment on someone else’s decision or journey.

Second, think about why you want to know and why a reader would want to know. Does it add to the story? Is it important to telling the person’s own story? Would it seem out of place if you omitted it? Would it seem out of place if you added it?

To read the complete tip sheet and download a PDF, click here.